Driving Concerns – How to Know When to Put the Brakes On Elderly Drivers
Driving skills vary from one person to another, and one age bracket to another. However, as people age, their driving does decline, but it doesn’t always mean that across the boards all elderly people will become worse at driving.
Noticing the early warning signs is important. One of the biggest early warnings is getting lost.If not addressed early enough, it can become dangerous for not only your loved one to be on the road, but also for other drivers and families out there.
First it is important to look at the cause of your parent getting lost. Sit down and talk with your parent about the situation that occurred.
- Did something along the way distract him/her while driving? Is this the first time it has occurred and was just due to something unusual that day?
- Find out if they have noticed other moments of forgetfulness that are of concern - greater than not knowing where they put the car keys?
- How does your parent feel about driving? Does it feel stressful to them? Can they easily see traffic lights and street signs? Or do they find themselves driving closer and closer, slowing by the sign to see it?
- If your parent is on more than one consistent medications check with their doctor to see that those medications are not interfering with each other and causing other side effects. Certain medications or combinations of medications can affect senses and reflexes.
Ensuring regular doctor check-ups is important. Getting their eyes, hearing and reflexes checked is vital. Another area of concern could be sleep. Anyone, no matter their age, can appear to be intoxicated when poor sleep is involved. Have their doctor help them establish healthy nighttime sleep conditions to ensure proper rest when driving.
If all of the above has been done and your loved one still gets lost frequently or has other issues when driving, it’s time to make the difficult decision of putting on the brakes and having them turn in their keys. Just because they are no longer able to drive, it doesn’t mean they have to loose their independence. Talk to them about redefining their independence by reframing the situation into a positive form.
AAA has a Senior Drivers Program where you can get driving fitness tips, videos and more, including state License Policies and Practices. They also help with planning for continued mobility (post driving), which is extremely helpful.
Visit: http://www.seniordrivers.org/home/ for more information.