With more senior drivers on the roads than ever before, Dr. Ericka Tung, a Mayo Clinic internist and geriatrician, discusses the importance of keeping older adults safe and independent.
Eventually all drivers will face the day when they need to put their driving days in the rearview mirror.
“On average, people will spend six to 10 years of their life retired from driving,” explains Dr. Tung. “So it’s a better thing if we can make that choice on our own terms rather than waiting for a traffic violation or an accident to make that decision for us.”
Dr. Tung says physicians are in the position to help their older patients determine whether it’s safe to keep driving.
“We really have that privilege of getting to know our patients. We know their health conditions. We know the challenges they’re having. We know their preferences and goals for the future. So we can really look at the entire patient and help them make good decisions.”
Dr. Tung encourages seniors to be open to the discussion and view “driving retirement” as a normal part of aging.
“As a physician, my primary goal — my only goal — is to help my patients stay well and stay healthy. So first thing is just normalize it. It’s just one of those topics that has to be covered,” says Dr. Tung.