Help­ing el­derly stay in­de­pen­dent

Cynon Valley - - YOUR VIEWS -

A RE­CENT survey by In­de­pen­dent Age, the older peo­ple’s char­ity, re­vealed that al­most half (47%) of driv­ers aged 70 and over in Wales say they would feel like they’d lost part of their iden­tity if they were not able to drive, and for more than nine in 10 (91%) older driv­ers it would mean a loss of in­de­pen­dence.

The survey was com­mis­sioned to pro­mote our new, free ad­vice guide, Be­hind the Wheel: Tips for safe and con­fi­dent driv­ing in later life. The guide is full of tips to help sup­port older driv­ers, and pro­vides in­for­ma­tion on al­ter­na­tives if they de­cide to stop driv­ing. It is ac­com­pa­nied by on­line in­for­ma­tion for the fam­i­lies of older driv­ers around how to start dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tions about driv­ing.

The survey showed that, for many older peo­ple in Wales, be­ing able to drive means so much more than just be­ing able to get out-and­about. Whether it’s keep­ing in touch with fam­ily and friends or con­tin­u­ing to do their shop­ping, driv­ing can help main­tain a sense of in­de­pen­dence, and iden­tity too.

There are al­most five mil­lion peo­ple over the age of 70 who hold li­cences in the UK, with more than 100,000 of those over the age of 90. There are many ben­e­fits to con­tin­u­ing to drive into older age and, as long as they re­main safe, older peo­ple should be able to con­tinue driv­ing for as long as they want to. It’s also vi­tal that peo­ple who are no longer able to drive have ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion on the var­i­ous op­tions avail­able for get­ting around with­out a car.

In­de­pen­dent Age is one of the two char­i­ties who pro­vided con­trib­u­tors for ITV’s 100-year-old Driv­ing School, which aired ear­lier this month. In­de­pen­dent Age rep­re­sen­ta­tives at­tended the three re­gional hubs to talk to older driv­ers and their fam­i­lies par­tic­i­pat­ing in the pro­gramme about their ex­pe­ri­ences of driv­ing, in re­search for the Be­hind the Wheel ad­vice guide.

Be­hind the Wheel is free to down­load from www. in­de­pen­dent age. org/driv­ing-guide or can be or­dered by call­ing 0800 319 6789.

To find out more about how you can sup­port the work of In­de­pen­dent Age and help older peo­ple stay in­de­pen­dent, visit www.in­de­pen­den­t­age.org Lucy Harmer Di­rec­tor of Ser­vices, In­de­pen­dent Age

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