Senior Adults And Driving; When It’s Time To Finally Stop
Senior adults and their driving is a sticky subject to discuss — especially with them. Rarely, will you find a senior adult who thinks he/she should no longer be behind the wheel. Certainly, getting older isn’t necessarily a reason to give up driving, but sometimes it’s clear that it’s time for them to stop.
For most seniors, driving serves as a form of independence and pride, so the conversation can become difficult.
Senior Adults: Driving The Highways And Byways
Senior adults these days are out on the roads in force — kudos to most of them. Statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show they’re keeping their licenses longer and logging more miles on their cars than ever before. Nevertheless, fatal crash rates tend to increase considerably after age 70 and reach their peak among drivers 85 and older.
Because you want to make sure your loved one doesn’t become one of those unfortunate statistics, be proactive and make sure your parent, partner or spouse is still fit to drive.
A good idea is to have their doctor talk to them.
Senior Adults: Behind The Wheel, They Feel Invincible
It’s great for them to feel confident and optimistic, but the statistics tell a different story. Normal aging is associated with decreased reaction time, vision problems and hearing decline, all of which put other drivers and pedestrians at risk.
In addition, certain medical conditions — such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, dementia, glaucoma and macular degeneration, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke — can deteriorate a person’s driving abilities. Moreover, the more medications they take and the more medical conditions they have, the greater the risk to all involved.
Here is the litmus test, the deciding factor, for you as the parent/grandparent: Would you allow your child or grandchild get into the car that the senior adult is driving?
If your answer is No — then it’s time for the senior adult to retire from the driver’s seat.
The question then is, how can I tell that it’s time to give up driving? Here are some signs you should look for:
- Driving too slow or too fast consistently
- Getting lost on familiar roads
- Having recent car accidents or near misses
- Having trouble parking or turning left
- Receiving tickets for driving violations
- Running red lights or stop signs
- Showing up with new dents or scratches on the car
- Using lanes improperly
If it’s clear that the driving days are at an end, perhaps a family member or friend would step in and drive them.
Or, set up a taxi, Lyft or Uber account on their smartphone, and show them how to use it.