Providing the Best Senior Care for Your Loved Ones
Autonomy is a precious thing, and a hard one to let go of. But as we age, there are things we have to begin to approach differently. One harsh reality of aging is the loss of mobility, and specifically the ability to drive a vehicle. As adults, we get accustomed to being able to go where we want and do as we please, but growing older comes with some limitations that can make driving in particular a difficult task.
It can be really hard to convince a loved one that it’s time to stop driving, but when that becomes the healthiest and safest choice for everyone involved, it simply must be done. It helps to approach the situation with valuable information, empathy, and some solutions for getting around that might help the senior in your life understand that getting behind the wheel is no longer safe.
Assessing a Senior’s Capacity for Driving
If you’re worried a senior in your life should potentially stop driving, there are two factors to consider– physical and mental health. Things that come into play are vision, hearing, reflexes, and overall coordination, which when diminished can result in driving becoming a very unsafe activity. A driver who struggles to see or hear clearly will have issues with identifying safety hazards while on the road. Diminished physical strength and range of motion can also present problems and contribute to slower reaction times behind the wheel.
Is It Time to Stop Driving?
There are things to look for when you think it might be time for the senior in your life to stop driving– warning signs that signal that driving may no longer be safe for them. Some of these signs include:
- Inability to keep track of speed limits
- Forgetting to signal when changing lanes or making a turn
- Erratic control of speed of vehicle/inconsistent acceleration
- Failure to recognize right of way
- Failure to yield or stop at signs or traffic lights
- Difficulty merging
- Routinely becoming lost in areas that were once familiar
- Anxiety or stress associated with driving or when behind the wheel
- Increased frequency of near accidents
If you are starting to notice some of these signs, it may be time to have a discussion about whether continued driving is appropriate.
Broaching the Subject
No one wants to have conversations like this one, but sometimes difficult discussions are necessary and important to have. If your loved one’s driving skills have become enough of a concern, it’s better to have a tough love moment than to allow them to put themselves and others at risk. Even though the conversation might not be a pleasant one, there are some things you can do to make the news sting a little less.
Address it Early
This is not the type of news you want to just spring on someone. Have some pointed discussions about this early on when warning signs are still mild. This will give your loved one time to process the concept, and get comfortable with the change gradually.
Explain the Risks
The senior in your life knows the risks, but he or she may not want to dwell on those thoughts because of what they have to give up. Take the time to address how a car accident could adversely affect them and others– physically, mentally, and financially. The potential repercussions are simply not worth the risk involved.
Suggest a Driving Test
Sometimes it’s hard to know for sure when the time has come for a senior to hand over their keys. So give them the opportunity to go to the DMV and take the driving test. If they fail the driving or vision tests, then the decision will be out of your hands. The flip side here is that they could pass the test, and still be a danger on the roads– just something to bear in mind.
No matter what happens, just remember to broach this subject with compassion and patience. It’s not an easy thing to accept, and your loved one will need to rely on your support while dealing with the effects of growing older. Just assure them that it’s the safest and smartest route to take, and that you will ensure they can maintain mobility with your help. Our team at Regency Retirement Village of Tuscaloosa also offers transportation for our residents so they can still go to appointments, shop, and live full and active lives.