Is it time for a senior family member to stop driving? Here are a few tips to help you decide.
Deciding when it’s time to encourage an older family member to give up driving can be tough. Age alone can’t be the determining factor for when a person should stop driving. Some people are capable drivers well into their eighties and nineties, while others far younger may not be safe behind the wheel.
There are undeniable age-related changes that can impair a senior’s ability to drive safely. These include physical changes, such as a loss of flexibility, reduced mobility, and vision changes. Slower reflexes can also have a negative impact on driver safety.
If you and your family are trying to figure out if the time has come for a senior loved one to hang up their keys for good, this information may help you decide.
Signs It’s Time for an Older Person to Give Up Driving
1. Ride along to assess the senior’s skills.
One of the easiest ways to objectively evaluate a loved one’s driving skills is to ride along as the passenger. A few signs they might not be a very safe driver include:
- Pausing too long at stop signs and red lights
- Driving too fast or too slowly
- Drifting out of their lane
- Braking unnecessarily
- Hitting curbs while turning or parking
- Getting too close to cars in front of them
2. Assess their comfort level behind the wheel.
How comfortable an older driver is—or isn’t—while driving can also impact their safety. A few things to look for during your ride-along with a senior driver include:
- Anxiety: If an older adult becomes anxious easily while driving, their ability to drive well can be affected.
- Anger: Road rage isn’t just an issue among younger drivers. It can be a senior driver’s way of coping with the anxiety and stress they feel when driving.
- Confusion: While this can be an early sign of a memory-related condition like Alzheimer’s disease, it can also be linked to a senior’s fear about driving.
If an older family member exhibits any of these signs, they might be lacking confidence in their driving ability, and it’s worth discussing transportation alternatives.
3. Consider medical conditions that may impact driving.
Some health conditions or medications can affect a senior’s ability to drive. A few that warrant special consideration include:
- Alzheimer’s disease: In the earliest stages of the disease, a physician might say an older driver is still safe to drive. As the disease advances, however, the senior may get lost or have trouble making good driving decisions.
- Vision changes: While some vision changes can be corrected, others may impair a senior’s safety. Glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration can make it more difficult to see signs, traffic signals, and pedestrians.
- Arthritis: This debilitating health condition causes stiffness in the joints. Some of the movements required for driving, such as turning your head to look over your shoulder or sliding in and out of the car, can become painful.
Transportation Services at The Wesley
If a senior in your life is ready to give up driving but needs a reliable transportation option, it may be time to consider a move to an assisted living community. These communities offer a variety of services and amenities designed to support both the safety and the independence of older adults.