Helping elderly stay independent
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