Driving Aids to Assist Seniors

March 23, 2020

Driving aids help keep older adults safer behind the wheel of a car. Here are a few to explore.

Driving represents freedom to many people. This may be especially true for older adults struggling to hang on to their independence. Staying safe behind the wheel as you grow older can become difficult. If a senior loved one is experiencing driving issues common among older drivers, there might be a solution.

As technology expands, there is an ever-increasing number of driving aids designed to assist seniors. Safely entering and exiting a vehicle or turning to look over the shoulder can be more difficult when you are older.

Some popular driving aids may help keep a senior in your family safer behind the wheel of their car.

Driving Aids for Senior Drivers

While there is an ever-increasing number of driving aids on the market, some of the most useful for senior drivers’ common struggles include:

  • Swivel seat cushion

One way older drivers experience the greatest number of falls is entering or exiting their vehicle. A simple, inexpensive device that can help is a swivel seat cushion. These allow an older adult to safely rotate their body and slide behind the steering wheel or swivel to the side and exit the vehicle. For seniors who have a balance disorder, this device can be a lifesaver. Another benefit of swivel cushions is the boost in height they give older drivers. That can make it easier to see over the steering wheel.

  • Seat belt grabber

The statistics are clear when it comes to seat belts and safety: they save lives. According to the United States Department of Transportation, 47% of the 37,133 people killed in car accidents in 2017 were not wearing seat belts. But for some senior drivers, reaching over to pull the seat harness closed is very painful. Older adults with osteoarthritis or back and shoulder problems find this motion uncomfortable.

A driving aid known as a seat belt pull may be a solution. Most provide an additional four to six inches of reach. The device acts as a handle to give the senior something easier to grab and pull.

  • Mirror adaptors/extenders

Another common struggle for older drivers is seeing in the rearview and side mirrors. An easy solution is installing panoramic mirrors. They give the driver a broader view of their vehicle’s surroundings. Blindspot mirrors also make it easier for adults who have neck and shoulder injuries that make turning to look behind them painful.

  • Pedal extenders

Decreasing height is a reality for many seniors. Losing a few inches can make it tough to reach the gas pedal and brake. A device called a foot pedal extender can help.

These driving aids extend the length of the pedals. That makes it easier, safer, and more comfortable for a senior to drive. It has the added safety benefit of keeping an older driver from sitting too close to the steering wheel. If the senior has to sit on the edge of the seat to reach the pedals, they can be injured if the airbags deploy.

Finally, the nonskid surface of a pedal extender helps decrease the risk of the senior’s foot sliding off the pedal, causing an accident.

Most of the devices listed above can be found online or at your local automotive store.

Transportation Services at Legacy Senior Living

If your loved one is ready to hang up their car keys for good, it may be a great time to consider moving to an independent or assisted living community. Because transportation is typically provided, it may be easier to give up driving.

Call the Legacy community nearest you to learn more about our transportation programs!