It is never easy to have a conversation with a senior loved one that has to do with giving up the keys to the car for good. After all, driving represents independence and freedom for most people, so it can be really difficult to know when the time is right to ask your loved one to stop driving for the sake of their safety, and that of other people on the road. It can make your loved one feel embarrassed, and due to the high cost of taxi cabs, the cost of not driving can seem overwhelming.
Aging alone should not mean that a person must stop driving, but if there are safety concerns due to health or slower reflexes, it can become an issue. It’s important to have a good reaction time for any driver, no matter how old they are.
So, when should you have the conversation about deciding the time to stop driving has come? Here are a few tips to help you know.
Does your loved one seem easily distracted or even nervous or jumpy?
Safe driving is completely dependent on cognitive health. If dementia or Alzheimer’s has been an issue, it’s even more important to consider this carefully. Not only because reaction times may be compromised, but also because memory loss becomes dangerous if they don’t remember how to get where they are going.
Does your loved one have any type of eye disease or poor vision?
Obviously, driving is not safe if you can’t see well. Even something as simple as cataracts can be dangerous for someone behind the wheel. Other vision problems in the elderly can include diabetic complications, macular degeneration, or glaucoma. All these conditions can be extremely risky for people who drive.
Is your loved one hearing-impaired?
Safe driving requires good hearing as well as good vision. All the various sounds and stimuli around us such as honking, sirens, or the sounds of mechanical problems are important to be able to hear. Without sharp hearing, accidents are far more prevalent.
Does your loved one have slowed reflexes?
One of the most important factors in driving safely is a quick reaction time. Car accidents are scary for anyone, but for those who cannot react quickly, they are far more likely to be in a serious accident.
Medications and safe driving
No matter how old you are, certain medications don’t mix well with driving, and this is especially true with seniors. They may be more sensitive to the side-effects of medications and become more susceptible to accidents. If you are concerned about any medications, ask the doctor for your loved one and go through the list of what they take and any potential sedating effects. Don’t forget to include all over-the-counter medications and any vitamins or supplements.
For more information on how to determine when it’s time to talk about your senior loved one turning over the car keys, please contact us today. It might be a tough conversation to have, but it is well worth it in order to keep them safe, along with the other people who are on the road with them.
Home Helpers of San Mateo County is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including home care assistance, personal care, companion care, respite care, 24-hour live-in care, Alzheimer's & dementia care, Parkinson's care as well as homemaker services in Burlingame, San Mateo, Half Moon Bay, Daly City, San Carlos, Redwood City, Belmont, Foster City, Hillsborough, Pacifica, Millbrae, Montara, and San Bruno, California.
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