It’s not easy to tell an aging parent in your care that he or she shouldn’t be driving. Sometimes, though, it’s even harder to make that determination yourself. After all, you’re using your own judgment to recommend a big lifestyle change to a parent or loved one who is already experiencing a number of difficult changes in their health and life.
If you’re wondering whether or not your aging parent should be driving, here are five signs that can help you make the right choice.
Five Signs a Senior Shouldn’t Be Driving
1. Frequent dents, dings and scratches on the car – While a car accident can be a sign of diminished driving skills, even more telling is a series of dents, dings or small fender benders, especially if your loved one tries to hide them from you. Diminished vision and issues with depth perception often makes driving more difficult as we age. If your loved one has had a series of small mishaps, it could be just a matter of time before a big accident occurs.
2. Frequent lapses in memory (not necessarily while driving) and/or frequently getting lost while driving.These are signs of Alzheimer’s that could affect driving ability. If your loved one is forgetful or confused while they aren’t driving, this could extend to their behavior on the road and present a danger to themselves or others.
3. Your loved one is on medication that precludes driving due to certain side effects, such as drowsiness. – If a doctor says your loved one shouldn’t be driving, heed his or her advice.
4. Reduced visual acuity – Any number of conditions, from cataracts or glaucoma to old age, can reduce vision. If they can’t pass the DMV vision test due to these conditions, your aging loved one probably should not be driving. However, a DMV driver’s evaluation can show for certain if your loved one is safely compensating for the reduced vision and can still drive safely during the day.
5. One or more car accidents that were clearly their fault – Anyone can have a car accident; that’s why they are called accidents. But an accident where a senior driver is at fault could indicate a loss in driving ability and should be carefully evaluated. This could include the senior rear-ending someone else, veering into other lanes, driving the wrong way down a street, or other instances that could show loss of reflexes or even confusion behind the wheel.
If you’re not sure if an aging loved one should be driving, watch carefully for these five signs. Look for reasons to drive with them so you can see, first-hand, how they handle decision-making on the road, and also listen to the opinions of others (siblings or friends) who also drive with your parenting. Most importantly, trust your instincts. Do you feel safe in the car with them? If not, it may be time to sell the car and consider other transportation options. SeniorLiving.net offers some tips on how to broach the conversation of no longer driving and how to make the transition easier for everyone.
Whatever you decide, remember that you’re making the choice for the safety of your loved one, as well as others on the road. Taking a car and license away from an aging loved one is a difficult choice, but not as difficult as the possibility of losing them in an accident caused by diminished driving skills, vision, or reflexes.
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