To many people, driving equals independence. From the big wheels we pedal as children to the moment we pass that driving test as a teenager to our first road trip, driving is an integral part of the fun and utility of our lives. Eventually, we become elderly drivers. As we get older, our ability to drive lessens and becomes a detriment. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the number of automobile accidents per mile increases for people 65 and older over younger age groups. The deteriorating health conditions that accompany aging simply make it harder to drive safely as we get older. Yet, the thought of giving up driving is about more than giving up the ability to get from point A to point B. It’s giving up a lifestyle at a time when your loved one may be giving up many other important aspects of their life. However, the ability of your parents to drive is critical to their safety and the safety of those around them. Here are a few signs that it may be time to stop driving:
- Changes in health: If your loved one has developed a health condition such as Dementia or Parkinson’s disease, it’s likely that they are not physically or mentally able to drive. If they receive a diagnosis for either, start talking about a transition in their transportation options.
As we get older, we also become weaker and have lesser abilities to handle the rigors of driving an automobile. Long highway drives around aggressive drivers can be a challenge. Additionally, your loved ones’ reflexes may become dulled. Braking too quickly or not quickly enough may be a sign that it’s time to give up driving.
- Issues with focus: Driving is as much mental as it is physical. If you’re elderly parent is becoming forgetful while driving or frequently neglects to use a turning signal or has issues staying in their lane, it is likely time to discuss their driving ability.
- Issues with seeing or hearing: It’s natural to lose some of the ability to see and hear as we get older. Sight and hearing are critical to safe driving. If you notice that your loved one is having difficulty hearing sirens or with their peripheral vision, talk to their doctor. They may be able to prescribe an assistive device to improve your parent’s driving ability. A doctor may also be able to give advice on adjustments in driving habits, such as only driving during the day or avoiding highways.
- The impact of certain prescription drugs: Certain drug interactions may inhibit a person’s ability to focus, see or move fluidly. When your aging parent is prescribed a new medication, it’s important to discuss with their doctor how the new drug mixes with other prescriptions and whether or not it will affect their ability to drive.
- Other signs: Have you noticed damage to your loved one’s car or have they been receiving more tickets lately? These along with other factors mentioned are signs that they may be a danger to themselves and others on the road.
It’s never easy to have the conversation with an elderly parent about their ability to drive. However, there are options that you can present to them. Companion care from AstraCare can provide your loved one with a variety of services to make their life more comfortable and fulfilling. Our caregivers can drive clients to appointments, church, visits with friends and shopping. To learn more, contact us today at (844) 811-4401.