Q: My father-in-law had a bad traffic accident (not his fault) and has had surgeries and been in rehab for weeks. He’s moving across the country to be with us for a few months. I know he’ll want his independence, but I’m not sure he’s really capable of driving yet. What are your suggestions for how we approach the conversation and make the assessment about driving?
A: This is not a decision you could or should make. There are experts – occupational therapists and driving rehabilitation therapists – who know how to assess his capabilities and recommend ways to limit risks. That can include advising him to avoid driving a bit longer until his physical limitations don’t put him in danger behind the wheel, and helping him find other ways of getting around in the meantime.
You can call the rehab center where he’s being treated and ask their recommendations for a specialist in your area. Or you can find one of these specialists nearby by going to aota.org, the website of the American Occupational Therapy Association. Click on “Driver Safety” and scroll down on that page to “Find a Driver Rehab Specialist.” Type in your zip code and the nearest specialists pop up.
A nice reader speaks out: I responded recently to a reader requesting suggestions for a modestly priced midsized sedan with higher seats and some other specifications. I wrote that I could find no sedan that met all their specs in their price category and asked readers to tell me if I’d missed something. One responded thusly: “They won't find what they want in a modestly priced midsized sedan. They will find it in one of the smaller SUVs. These all sit up higher than sedans, have straighter seats and many of them also have electrically adjustable seats and such: Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forrester … Hyundai or Kia. They will also find they like the back hatch for unloading things more than a conventional trunk. Also, the visibility is much better in the small SUVs. My father traded his Lincoln Continental for a Subaru Forrester when he was 80, and loved it. It was easier to park, easier to get in and out of, easier to load/unload parcels and burned less gas.”
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