The Fearless Caregiver


Gary Barg - Editor-in-chief Safety First


Only one major rule applies during a Fearless Caregiver Conference’s Expert Q & A panel session: when the driving question comes up (as it always does), we save the responses for the last half hour of the session. This is because once the conversation is broached, no other topic can be discussed. The driving question comes in various forms, but can usually be paraphrased as “How can I get my elder loved one to stop driving?”   Yet, it took a variation on that question asked by a family caregiver at a recent event to turn the topic on its head: “How do I keep my loved one driving for as long as safely possible?”  This is a terrific question, deserving of the best possible answers, and what better expert is there on the subject than the AAA?

Here are some basic tips for safely keeping your senior loved one on the road from

  • They should sit at least 10” from the center of the steering wheel.
  • Always wear safety belt properly. Place the lap belt low and snug over the pelvis with the shoulder portion over the stomach and across the chest and collarbone.
  • If their steering wheel tilts, direct it towards their chest, not their head.
  • Adjust the head restraint. The center of the headrest should coincide directly with the back of their head.
  • Check mirrors. A few simple steps can ensure that a “second set of eyes” is as efficient as possible.
  • Get regular eye exams—at least every two years, and more if their eyes are changing rapidly or if they have a condition such as cataracts or glaucoma.


But there are some simple steps that can be taken that can help minimize the effect aging eyes can have on driving:

Make sure that they get regular eye exams (at least every two years). Cataracts are common among senior drivers and can be corrected with surgery; the progress of many other eye problems can be slowed if they are detected in time.

Limit driving. If your loved one has a problem with night vision or glare, limit their driving to daytime hours.

Advise them to turn their head frequently. This action can help compensate for diminished peripheral vision.

Tell them to check their mirrors. A few simple steps can ensure that a “second set of eyes” is as efficient as possible. The AAA Foundation offers step by step instructions for adjusting mirrors as well as a video that explains how to tell if their mirrors are properly adjusted.

Add a larger rearview mirror to increase the range of visibility.

Teach them to keep their eyes up. Looking at the road ahead to see trouble before they reach it. Tell them that in the city, they need to look at least one block ahead; on the highway, at the section they will reach in 20 to 30 seconds.

And make sure that you and your loved one attend a Car-fit event if there is one in your neck of the woods.



  Gary Barg

Today's Caregiver magazine
Friday October 28, 2011
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