Seniors need safe, reliable transportation and assistance
When your older adult can’t safely drive themselves, one option is hiring a caregiver to drive them.
An in-home caregiver who is willing to drive can take seniors to appointments, help them run errands, and take them to visit family and friends. This is especially helpful when you or other family members aren’t available to take them out.
We’ve got 6 tips to help you find a great caregiver who will safely and reliably drive your older adult around town.
6 tips for hiring a caregiver to drive your senior
1. Ask about their driving record and history
Before letting someone drive your older adult, it’s important to find out if they’re a safe, responsible driver.
Ask about their driving record and take notes on what they say. Also, write down the information on their current driver license or take a photo of it.
When you ask about their experience driving seniors, focus on questions like:
- Have you driven for an older adult before? For how long?
- What were your best and worst driving experiences with seniors?
2. Check their DMV driving record
When hiring a caregiver to drive your older adult, it’s a good idea to get a copy of their official Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) driving record. This also gives you a chance to compare the information they gave you with the official record to make sure everything matches.
Request their DMV driving record by calling your state’s DMV or visiting their website. Keep in mind that the DMV record will only include their driving history in that state. It won’t cover any incidents from other states.
The DMV record check verifies the status of their driver license, expiration date, and license type and class. It also tells you if there are any restrictions, suspensions or revocations, violations, accidents, or DUIs.
3. Ask situational questions
A great way to assess a caregiver’s driving is to ask questions about what they would do in situations that could potentially come up.
This helps them understand the type of care situation they’re getting into and helps you find out how they would react when something unexpected happens. Base these questions on your older adult’s typical behaviors and health conditions.
For example, what would the caregiver do if your older adult…
- Suddenly refuses to leave the house for their doctor appointment
- Starts getting angry or yelling while the caregiver is driving
- Urgently needs to use the restroom or has an accident
- Starts feeling ill or unwell
- Becomes weak in the legs while out in public and can’t walk back to the car, even with assistance
- Refuses to put on their seat belt
- Unbuckles their seat belt while the caregiver is driving
Take notes on their answers and whether or not they match the approach you would take in that situation.
If you live in an area with bad weather like heavy rain, thunderstorms, or snow, ask about their experience driving in bad weather. You’ll want to feel that they can handle bad weather (on top of distractions from your older adult) safely and with good judgement.
If they’ll be driving their own car, you may also need to find out if their car has the right equipment for bad weather, like working windshield wipers, emergency blinkers, snow tires, ice scraper, etc.
4. Decide whose car will be driven
Before hiring someone, you’ll need to figure out whose car will be used. If your senior has a car, but just needs a driver, then you don’t need to ask the caregiver to provide their car or check their car for safety.
If you do need someone who has their own car, make sure to see the car so you’ll know that it’s safe for your older adult and can seat them comfortably. Ask if the car is regularly maintained and if they have roadside assistance in case the car breaks down. You should also discuss how to reimburse them for gas and mileage.
Note: If the caregiver will be driving your older adult’s car, you’ll need to notify the car insurance company.
5. Have them take you on a test drive
It’s wise to have the caregiver take you on a drive as if they were driving your older adult.
Have them take you to and from a place your older adult frequently visits, like the doctor’s office, grocery store, or pharmacy. Go at the same time of day your older adult would be going out to see how they handle any traffic or road construction.
Pay attention to their driving style and how you’re feeling in their car. Your gut is a good judge — do you feel normal or are you stomping on an imaginary brake pedal? Chat normally with them to see how they handle driving while having a conversation. Also watch to see if they use their mobile phone while driving.
Warning signs of a poor driver include speeding, braking hard, being aggressive, and talking or texting on their phone. Take a look at their car to see if there are dents or scrapes, those could be additional signs of unsafe driving.
6. Discuss clear ground rules
Before having someone drive your older adult, make sure to set clear ground rules. These are especially important if your older adult has dementia and isn’t able to make good decisions on their own.
Rules could include:
- Certain destinations are strictly off-limits, like bars or betting locations
- Driving at night is not allowed
- No other people are allowed in the car unless previously approved by you
- The caregiver can’t run personal errands while driving your older adult
- The caregiver can’t use their mobile phone while driving
Document these ground rules and expectations down in an employment contract so there won’t be any misunderstandings.
Recommended for you:
- 7 Things You Must Do When Hiring an In-Home Caregiver
- 5 Ways to Keep an Eye on Your Senior’s In Home Caregiver
- 6 Affordable Senior Transportation Options
By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: First Call Nursing
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