By Gianna Kagel
Talking with a parent or loved one about their driving ability is never an easy conversation to have. There are a number of factors you should take into account when deciding that it is no longer safe for the senior in your life to continue to operate a vehicle. Here are three signs that it is time to give up the keys.
3. Health Status and Medication
There are numerous physical ailments that can affect a person’s driving ability. For example, arthritis and Parkinson’s disease can make it harder to switch gears and use a steering wheel correctly. Vision problems stemming from cataracts or glaucoma can affect peripheral vision and glares from the sun or other drivers’ headlights may trouble older drivers more than they used to. Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can increase the risk of getting lost or even forgetting how to handle a car safely.
Medications can have side effects that can render a senior unable to drive. Make sure you discuss driving with the Doctor when a loved one receives a new prescription. Even if driving with one medication is okay, it may not be safe when taken in combination with other medicines.
2. Changes in Driving Ability
The best way to know for sure if the senior in your life is still able to drive safely is to observe them. Any new scratches or dents in the car, or stories about close calls while driving can be early warning signs that it is no longer safe for them to be on the road. Do not wait until a serious accident happens.
If possible, go for a ride with your loved one and see how they drive. Keep a look out for signs like forgetting turn signals, ignoring stop signs, not keeping up with the speed or traffic, or delayed reaction times.
1. The Grandchild Test
If you are not sure about whether the time has come to ask a loved one to give up their keys ask yourself if you would feel safe with them driving around with their grandchildren in the car. If the answer is no, it is time to look into other options that allows them to keep their independence while keeping the roads safe for other drivers.
While safety is paramount, driving does not have to be an all of nothing decision. Even if seniors are unable to drive at highway speeds they may be okay on small, local roads. Driving tests for seniors are usually available at your local DMV, and many rehabilitations centers, hospitals, and veteran groups can help arrange for them as well.
Have you ever had to talk to a parent or loved one about their driving ability? How did you do it? Let us know in the comments below.