Resources for Family Caregivers of Older Adults
Today’s Cars Can Enable Many Seniors to Drive Safely Longer Than Older Cars

Today’s Cars Can Enable Many Seniors to Drive Safely Longer Than Older Cars

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Remember when TV was only black and white? When you had to get up to change the channel?

How about when the computer was a huge piece of equipment that had to sit on a desk and took forever to connect to the world wide web – and forever to do anything when you connected?

Did you ever have to use a rotary phone that hung on the wall in the kitchen – and pay for long distance calls?

There have been many advances in technology in just a very short number of years. Our phones can go in our pockets and “call” the internet without the help of the huge device on our desk and our TV sets now occupy every room in our home and take up the entire wall. The only worry now about the TV is who has the remote and if the couch cushions ate it.

Our automobiles have come a long way too — but many of our senior loved ones have not kept up.

Seniors and Their Cars

Many of our senior loved ones may remember a time when owning a new car was a great luxury that not everyone was fortunate to do.

The car was made to last and take us far and wide. There were no cup holders or even seat belts! We stuffed as many people into them as we could without giving it a second thought.

Cars ran long distances before they were traded in for a newer model. Cars were treasured and everyone did their own repairs including oil changes. My mother never had to fill her own gas tank up either, there was always a helpful young man at the service station who did that for her.

Our aging seniors who continue to be able to be functional enough to continue driving safely may be considering if the car they currently own, perhaps it is one that they have owned for a multitude of years, should be upgraded with some new innovations to help them drive longer and safer.

Innovations in the Car Industry

The auto makers appear to realize that innovations in technology can have meaningful consequences for a nation of aging men and women. The population growth in the senior sector begs for innovations targeted to the needs of older drivers and those manufacturers who ignore those needs could find themselves hurting in the future.

Actually, car manufacturers report that sales to buyers over 55 years have shown tremendous growth in the past five years and are now considered a critical segment for sales.

The latest advances that could make it worthwhile for your senior loved one to update their vehicle are growing in numbers. Car buyers are as varied as are the cars they want to purchase. There is no one type of car that seniors are buying today, just as is the case for younger buyers.

These are some of the more appealing features in current cars that older vehicles might not have.

  • Touch screen navigation GPS
  • Hands free phone system
  • Improved fuel economy
  • Environmental advances – electric or hybrid
  • Higher sitting profile above the other vehicles on the road
  • Easy open back gate
  • Backup camera and alert
  • Programmable seats with memory
  • Lumbar support in seats
  • Smaller cars compared to older models
  • Parking assistance
  • Greater cargo storage
  • Satellite radio
  • Emergency response, automatic response system
  • Cup holders
  • Smartphone chargers
  • High intensity headlights
  • Free regular maintenance as part of warranty program
  • Roadside assistance plans
  • Air bags for passenger and driver as well as some side air bags
  • Anti-lock Brakes
  • Grab bars to ease transfers in and out
  • Self-driving in the future!

Top 10 Car Models with Seniors

The auto manufacturers have tracked which particular cars are most appealing to our senior loved ones (all those over 55 really) from January to November 2013.

Here are their Top 10:

  1. Ford F-series Pickup Truck
  2. Honda CRV
  3. Toyota Camry
  4. Honda Accord
  5. Chevrolet Silverado
  6. Ford Escape
  7. Honda Civic
  8. Chevrolet Equinox
  9. Toyota RAV4
  10. Nissan Altima

Some people in the senior sector are beginning to look at cars more as an expression of their personality and not just a means of transport. More older adults than ever are looking for color choices and seating options.

There are now more safety features and technology updates available to our senior loved ones that can help them remain safe drivers and hold onto their independence even longer.

Help Seniors Decide to Upgrade

It would be a shame if having a few new features that could make a difference in whether our seniors can drive more safely and comfortably were not available to them because they don’t want to trade up. It could be that they are used to their old car, like that it is paid off or simply don’t feel they can justify spending the money that it takes to buy a new car.

As family caregivers, we can make our seniors more aware of the possibilities that a newer car can give them in terms of their independence. If they realized the impact of new technology on their future driving status, they might give it serious consideration.

Of course, it wouldn’t hurt if you agreed to help them learn about all the new systems in their new car. It took them awhile to get used to their new phone and even their remote control, so this new car could take some time to adopt as well.

Has your senior loved one recently purchased a new vehicle? What were the features that they found important or that they didn’t want to use? Were they looking for a particular type of vehicle or color? We would love to hear about their choices and process for picking the perfect car for them.

We'd love to hear your thoughts!





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