For seniors when the time comes to stop driving, it is a difficult transition. After all, your beloved senior has been driving for years, going to work, running errands, traveling, enjoying nights out, and caring for you and other family members. The decision to stop driving often comes when health and mobility of your loved one becomes a safety hazard, not only for him or her, but also for other drivers, and potential passengers. With open communication and compassion, as well as information and answers, you can help your loved one understand when it is time to stop driving.
Assessing Senior Health
Lots of factors go into driving safely, including mental and physical health. Difficult hearing, problems with vision, slowed reflexes, and reduced coordination are among issues which can hinder a driver’s ability. Driving requires not only the ability to react, but physical strength as well, when recognizing traffic signs and signals, potential obstacles, and hazards on the road. Quick decisions and responses are needed to drive safely. If your loved one is facing limitations in any of these areas, driving has likely become dangerous. Some common conditions such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, cataracts or glaucoma, dementia or seizures, arthritis or diabetes, can cause driving difficulties for seniors.
Signs Driving is No Longer Safe
Riding along with your loved one in the driver’s seat can also help you access his or her ability to drive safely including:
- Decreased mobility making it difficult to get in and out the vehicle alone
- Failure to yield or stop at traffic signs and signals
- Reduced response times
- Failing to signal when turning or changing lanes
- Inability to recognize right of way
- Getting lost in familiar areas
- Loss of depth perception (failure to recognize the distance between vehicles, objects, pedestrians)
- Inability to maintain posted speed or follow speed limits
- Struggling to merge or change lanes safely
- Difficulty parking
Having the Discussion and Providing Support
If you observe the above issues with your loved one, it is probably time to begin the discussion about giving up driving. It won’t be an easy talk, but you can help by acting compassionately and explaining your position – it is not only about their safety but also the safety of others. Talk about the dangers, yes, but also about some positives, saving money while not having to pay for insurance, car repairs, gas, and more. In the best-case scenario, your loved one will agree, especially if you offer the needed support and solutions to maintain his or her independence. If your loved one refuses, you may need to contact your local DMV requesting he or she take a driving test and continue to qualify to drive.
Remember, even if your loved one agrees to stop driving, the changes will be hard, but you can help. Providing the needed support – social, emotional, psychological, physical, and even monetary – can go a long way in making the transition easier for your loved one. Provide transportation or find quality transportation for your loved one to continue enjoying life. Consider relocating your loved one to a location with easily accessible transportation and where they can continue living an active lifestyle.
Even when your loved one is no longer able to drive, he or she still needs quality, trustworthy transportation. On the Space Coast, you can find it at Stellar Transportation, where we specialize in safe and comfortable non-emergency transportation for individuals of all mobility types. Stellar Transportation promises an enjoyable ride for your loved one, every single time, alleviated some of the disappointment of no longer driving.