The decline of mobility and coordination is a harsh reality of aging. Judgment and response time also slows with advanced age.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the rate of fatal accidents grows from age 70 and reaches a high at age 85 and above. Yet, despite these numbers, it can be challenging to persuade senior loved ones that it’s time to give up driving. Many seniors drive perfectly well into their 80’s, but with some, there are signs that it’s time to ‘put on the brakes’.
Addressing the topic of turning in the keys with a balanced approach that includes helpful facts, compassion, and viable alternatives can assist your senior loved one in making an informed decision. In this article, you will learn about what to look out for and how to approach the subject.
Common Warning Signs That It’s Time to Hang Up the Keys
While it’s true that there is no age cap for driving, some seniors may find it more difficult to drive as they age, for several reasons. Below are some of the signs to look out for:
• Problems With Sight or Hearing
Even if they’ve been outstanding drivers their whole lives, seniors may suddenly find it challenging to drive safely if they have trouble seeing or hearing. Monitoring a senior’s eyesight and hearing is very important, particularly for those who drive.
• Narrow Escapes
“Close calls” indicate driving abilities may be declining. This may occur as a result of misjudging the distance between vehicles, not noticing traffic lights or failure to account for the speed of oncoming vehicles.
• Medication Side Effects
Drivers must exercise good judgment and be able to react promptly, since every second matters while behind the wheel. Many drugs have unwanted side effects, such as drowsiness, that may impair alertness and mental agility.
• Memory Loss
Memory loss is a red flag signaling that it’s time to retrieve the keys. Getting lost on the road is a problem for seniors experiencing memory loss and the onset of dementia. There have been reports of seniors experiencing memory loss, and driving hundreds of miles in the wrong direction.
• Damage to Vehicle
Noticing damage to seniors’ cars, such as new dents and scratches, may indicate that they are not paying attention to their surroundings or that their judgment is declining.
If a loved one displays any of these indicators but refuses to give up driving voluntarily, it may be necessary to have a conversation.
• Start the Talk Early
Since it may take some time to convince your loved one to stop driving, it’s crucial to begin the discussion as soon as possible. When you observe a decline in your loved one’s driving abilities, start talking to them about your concerns. Expect resistance but handle it with care. Remember that your loved one has been driving for many years. Do your best to be empathetic, respectful, and patient as they sort through their feelings.
• Highlight the Potential Dangers
Calmly discuss any red flags you’ve noticed, such as their driving too fast or too slow, disregarding traffic signals, new damage to the car fender, etc. Let them know that you love them and are concerned about their safety as well as the safety of other motorists on the road.
• Recommend and Provide Alternate Means of Transportation
Offering a suitable alternative to driving is usually effective in convincing seniors to surrender their keys. Providing transportation to appointments, errands, and social events is a part of home health care and caregivers usually are authorized to transport their clients.
Keeping them safe is the priority. Communicate this to your loved one. Be patient and understanding as you have “the talk”. Point out the risks and your concerns, and together with your loved one, agree on safe options. Remember, your senior loved ones are adults. Approach the subject with respect and dignity. Taking away their driving privilege is not a punishment for declining driving ability. It is out of love and concern. Reassure them of that.
Allcare caregivers are licensed drivers offering as-needed transportation as part of their service. The agency also conducts annual DMV checks for safety. There are also alternatives such as senior transport services which offer transportation to appointments, social events and to run errands. Call us today to schedule an in-home assessment.