How to know when it’s time to reconsider driving for your elderly parent or patient.
Telling an elderly loved one that it may be time to stop driving can be a difficult conversation. For many seniors, driving may feel like a key aspect of independent living. Asking family or friends for rides can be embarrassing or frustrating—and relying on expensive taxis or car services can add up.
But if your loved one is facing physical limitations, driving can be a serious risk to their safety. While aging alone doesn’t change driving ability (there are many happy 90-year olds with licenses while their younger peers have long given them up!), elderly drivers are more likely to have health concerns or other limitations that pose a challenge behind the wheel.
Below are important tips to help you know when it’s time to ask your elderly loved one to hand over the keys—-and how to be sure you’re both making the safest choice.
If your loved one…is confused, nervous, distracted, or forgetful.
Whether your loved one has been diagnosed with Dementia, Alzheimer’s, or is simply experiencing general memory loss, cognitive health is the most important factor for safe driving. If he/she is not able to recall places or names, make choices quickly, or focus properly behind the wheel, they’re likely to be unable to navigate their vehicle or drive safely for any distance or time.
If your loved one…has recent vision changes or an eye disease.
Moderate to severe vision loss or eye diseases (such as cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy) can make it harder for a driver to see road signs, merging cars, or pedestrians clearly enough to respond quickly.
If your loved one…has a hearing loss.
Safe driving relies just as much on our sense of hearing as on our sight. Sirens, honking horns, or mechanical issues need to be heard right away to avoid potential crashes or unexpected break-downs.
If your loved one…moves slower or feels weaker.
As any driver can tell you, quick reflexes can often be the difference between a crash and a quick swerve away from danger. As a driver ages, they may find their response times slowing down or their muscles weakening, both of which can undermine their control over the steering wheel, brakes, and vehicle.
Medications and Driving…one more thing to consider.
Regardless of age or health, mixing strong medications and driving is a cause for concern—-and seniors may be more susceptible to negative side effects than their younger counterparts. Even if your loved one is in the best of health, check carefully with his/her health provider to make sure none of the prescribed medications’ side effects may impact their ability to drive safely. Note also that some over-the-counter medications, such as antihistamines or cold medicines, may cause drowsiness or dizziness and should be double-checked with a health provider, too.
Making safe, smart choices with your aging parents can be a challenge. But choosing the best home care shouldn’t be. Learn more about finding compassionate caregivers focused on dignity and quality of life by reaching out to Community Home Health Care at 845.425.6555. We’re always happy to answer any questions and connect you with the right care for your family.