Health Officer Column
Nearly everybody over 45 has probably worried about a elderly parent or other loved one’s safety when driving. Crashes caused by older drivers are a significant public health issue, especially in Maine with its oldest median age of all the states, and its predominantly rural environment that lacks much public transportation. In those rural areas, like Vienna, nearly 20% of the population is already over 65, which the rest of the country is not predicted to achieve until 2030. So seniors who live here must have a car and be able to drive to get most things done they need to do, from shopping, to medical care, to entertainment, despite recent local improvements in those and other services. And we hear reports of crashes involving elderly drivers constantly in the news recently. So what are the issues and what can be done to diminish the risks without isolating our seniors?