Drivers over 70 are the second highest group involved in vehicle fatalities, with drivers under 20 being the highest. The effects of aging are different between people, but if it is affecting cognitive functions and physical capabilities, driving can become very dangerous. Even some medications can affect driving ability no matter what age a person is. For most seniors, driving is one privilege they do not easily want to relinquish. However, there are things to watch for when it comes to your senior parent or loved one that is still driving that may make you want to reconsider letting them drive. You need to be proactive and watch for signs of damage on their car as well as any other reason to question their driving ability. Taking away a seniors driving privilege is usually not easy and will sometimes lead to arguments, but remember that argument as well as your persistence may save your parent or loved one’s life, as well as someone else’s.
Before you talk to your senior parent or loved one about their driving, you may want to make sure that you have an alternate transportation option available for them. If you cannot provide transportation when they need it, you may want to employ the services of a homecare company to not only check on them and assist them, but provide transportation when you are not available. If they continuously insist on driving and feel that they have no problems in the matter, the offer of alternative transportation may appeal to them making the transition from being a driver to a passenger much easier.
Before you even bring up the topic of restricting a senior’s driving, you may want to assess the situation and determine if there is really a need for intervention. The first important thing to take into consideration is their driver’s license. You will want to ask them when they last renewed their driver’s license, and have they been recently visited the optometrist. You may also want to find out if they had a pair of new glasses since the last visit or if they have been prescribed new glasses since then as vision changes are one of the most common reasons that seniors can no longer drive safely. Another common sign of unsafe driving is unexplained vehicle damage or damage to the garage or the area where their vehicle is usually parked. If you notice damage other than normal door “dings” or small scratches, ask you’re the senior about it. Keep track of any damage and periodically check the vehicle for any new damage. If you know any of the neighbors, you may want to ask them if they have ever seen your senior parent or loved one driving unsafely. Speeding tickets or other violations are another sign that maybe you should watch their driving more closely.
You will want to make sure that you have all your information correct before you approach the senior about the possibly of giving up driving to keep them safe. Let them know that you are concerned for their safety as well as the safety of others, and point out that aging happens to everyone and it is nothing to be ashamed of. You may also want to make sure that you let them know that either you or someone you have arranged for will drive them wherever they need to go. If there is a decline in one’s cognitive or physical abilities, it is also a good way to introduce them to a homecare provider, and once one is in need for more than assistance in transportation, that discussion will go smoother as well. If they are resistant to the discussion, be persistent. In some states in the US, if a senior’s driving has become dangerous, a physician who can verify this fact can send a letter to the state and actually have their driver’s license revoked. Before you get to that point, try other options and continue to assure them that it is not a punishment, you just want them and others to be safe.
If you are looking for a provider for alternate transportation, Carefect homecare services provides non-medical in-home senior care. Carefect homecare services provide services such as housekeeping and personal care as well as live in help if needed. Our services are competitively priced and the quality of the services we provide is our number one concern. We offer a free in home assessment that allows you and your senior parent or loved one to discuss what options and services are available to them. This can also make them feel more comfortable with having someone there to help. The Carefect team of caregivers can provide your senior parent or loved one with the assistance they need to keep them safe, and provide you with peace of mind.