It’s a misconception that parents automatically become worse drivers as they get older. Knowing this, if you have reason to believe that an elderly loved one can no longer drive effectively, putting their safety first is the right thing to do. While it’s understandable if you are uncertain about what action to take, ignoring the warning signs that an elderly driver might be unfit to get behind the wheel can have serious consequences.
Conditions That Can Affect Elderly Drivers’ Ability to Drive
Many older adults may struggle to accept the idea of giving up driving. Restricting their access to their car keys reduces their independence in heading to a store, senior center, library, church, or just for a coffee with friends. The experience can be traumatic for them.
Keep in mind that age is nothing but a number. The elderly should not have their driving privileges revoked solely because of their age. Some people in their 90s are still capable and responsible drivers, whereas others who are decades younger pose a severe threat to themselves and everyone else on the road.
All people age at varying rates, and problems with vision, limited physical capability, chronic ailments and diseases, and medications all contribute to the increased risk of traffic accidents among elderly drivers.
Warning Signs That Tell You It’s Time to Act
A few red flags that should raise serious concerns about a senior’s judgment or driving skills include the following:
- Negligent night-time driving or severely impaired side vision- even if corrected to 20/20 with lenses
- Having trouble maintaining a steady speed, or driving erratically by making sudden lane changes, stops, or starts
- Bumping into curbs, missing corners, or narrowly avoiding vehicles and people
- Struggling to read traffic signs or following directions leading to frequent disorientation, even on regular routes.
- Expressing surprise at the sudden appearance of cars or pedestrians
- At-fault collisions, increased close calls, dings, and scuffs; citations or “warnings” from the police
- Dangerous driving behaviors include not using turn signals, leaving them on while not changing lanes, and lane drifting.
Having the Difficult Conversation with Your Aging Parent
One of the trickiest conversations you might have is convincing the elderly to give up driving. While speaking with elderly drivers on this topic, be compassionate and inclusive. You may receive a positive response if you express your genuine concern for their well-being. Advice from a trusted friend or family member is preferable to following the dictates of a court or the Department of Motor Vehicles.
During this difficult conversation with elderly drivers, make sure you are calm and empathetic throughout – not aggressive, irritated, or confrontational. You should keep your conversation honest and non-accusatory, helping your senior loved one gain comfort in seeking assistance proactively and be willing to give up their car keys.
Contact Home To Stay for Companionship Services
Home to Stay Senior Care Solutions’ caregiving services helps keep senior clients mentally, emotionally, and physically engaged while living independently in their homes.
One of our many home companionship services includes assistance with transportation for elderly drivers. Please call us at (856) 321-1500 for more information or use this contact form to learn more about our services.