Hit the Brakes: Warning Signs It’s Time for Seniors to Limit or Stop Driving
Driving a car provides independence that is often difficult to part ways with. Most adults wish to continue driving for their entire lives. However, at some point many people face the unfortunate truth that it is time to limit or stop driving. Having this conversation with an elderly loved one can be one of the more difficult deliberations you face as a family caregiver, however, it is necessary to keep them and others safe.
According to agingcare.com, there is no precise age that a person’s ability to drive is compromised. There are seniors in their 80s who are able to drive actively and safely, while others in their 50s are a danger to others each time they get behind the wheel. Age should not be a deciding factor when discussing driving limitations with your elderly loved one. Instead, physical and mental ability are critical factors in making a decision like this. AARP has provided 10 warning signs to indicate it may be time to have a conversation about driving with your parent or loved one.
- Frequent “close calls” and near-accidents
- Dents and scrapes accumulating on the car, fences, mailboxes, garage doors, curbs, etc.
- Getting lost, even in familiar locations
- Difficulty recognizing and following traffic signals, road signs and pavement markings
- Slower reaction time to unexpected situations, having difficulty transferring their foot from the gas to the brake pedal or confusing the two altogether
- Inability to properly gauge gaps in traffic at intersections and on highway entrance and exit ramps
- Creating situations that elicit complaints from other drivers such as yelling or honking
- Having difficulty concentrating while driving and becoming easily distracted.
- Straining to use the rear or side view mirrors or trouble turning around while backing up or changing lanes
- Amassing an unusual amount of traffic tickets or “warnings” from law enforcement officers
If one or more of these cautionary signs is relevant to your elderly loved one it may be time to reassess their current driving situation. Furthermore, some Department of Motor Vehicles locations offer driving assessments to evaluate your ability to operate a car. A simple rule of thumb is to ask yourself “Do you feel comfortable in the passenger seat when your elderly loved one is driving?”
Before taking the keys away, try registering them for a driver-improvement course. Additionally, a trip to the doctor may find a solution for managing any concentration problems or physical ailments lessening driving ability.
If the time does come where driving needs to be limited or stopped, make sure to emphasize that this does not mean independence is completely lost. Stress the fact that alternative modes of transportation are available such as senior busses and carpools with friends.
If a physical issue is hindering mobility and creating driving issues, you may also consider a Stannah Stairlift. Stannah Stairlifts ensure that your elderly loved one will be able to safely navigate the stairs in their home. These lifts will provide independence and help alleviate that feeling of being trapped at home if their driving ability has been limited.