Solutions to help the older adult stay active and happy include:
Supporting driving skills
Finding transportation alternatives
Encouraging fun and social activities
Getting help with depression
Supporting Driving Skills
Ask how the older adult feels about driving. Ask if the older adult gets thorough eye and physical exams every year. Encourage the older adult to talk to health professionals about any driving concerns. Ask health professionals if any medications or health conditions might affect the older adult’s driving.
Ask the older adult if the car’s steering wheel, pedals, seat belt and mirrors are easy and comfortable to use. Look for local “Car-Fit” events, to get free information and suggestions about car adjustments and safety features.
If the older adult is interested in car modifications, like wide-view mirrors or pedal extenders, suggest a professional driving assessment by an occupational therapist. Look for therapists who work with older drivers on the American Occupational Therapy Association website.
Ask if the older adult wants to take a driving class, to refresh skills and learn safety strategies. Look up online and in-person classes, including AARP’s Smart Driver course, AAA’s Roadwise Driver Course and the National Safety Council’s Defensive Driving Courses. See if the older adult’s insurance company offers discounts to drivers who take classes.
Finding Transportation Alternatives
Use CaringWire's provider list or contact the local transit agency or Area Agency on Aging to ask about alternatives to driving, such as:
Public transit, like buses or trains
Paratransit rides, for people unable to use standard bus or train services
Rideshare programs, like organized carpools or vanpools
Volunteer driver programs
Taxis or other rides for hire
Check to see if any groups that the older adult is active with, like the local Senior Center, religious or community organizations have vans or organize rides.
Ask what transportation options the older adult is comfortable using. If the older adult wants to get rides with others, offer to contact family, friends or neighbors.
Encouraging Fun and Social Activities
Ask if the older adult wants to do favorite activities more often, including visiting friends or family.
Look for activities, classes and programs that match the older adult’s interests and skills. Look at events calendars published by local news outlets. Contact community centers, libraries, senior centers and religious and service organizations. Look for opportunities for the older adult to help others, perhaps by tutoring or volunteering at food pantries. Search for local groups that focus on hobbies or other activities that the older adult enjoys. Share this information with the older adult.
Getting Help With Depression
Dealing with health challenges, retiring, moving, or losing friends or family can make anyone sad. Ask how the older adult is feeling. Listen and let the older adult know you care. Ask what you can do to help.
If you’re concerned that the older adult seems depressed, lonely or anxious, say so. Encourage the older adult to talk to a primary care provider, social worker, therapist or other health professional. Say that being sad is normal, but staying sad for weeks, feeling hopeless or being unable to enjoy favorite activities are signs of a health condition that can be treated.