For seniors, driving represents freedom and independence. Unfortunately, many will reach a point where the decline in their physical and/or cognitive abilities will make it unsafe for them to drive. When that time comes, loved ones must be aware of the signs and initiate that difficult but important conversation. Fortunately, the fact that a home health care provider can drive the senior to appointments and social obligations can help soften the blow.
How to Assess a Senior’s Driving Skills
Often an elder’s driving ability will diminish over a period of months or years, making it difficult to determine when it is time to relinquish the car keys. However, if you see one or more of these warning signs, you should help the person understand that they should no longer drive:
- Becoming easily or frequently distracted while driving
- Lack of confidence in their driving skills
- Driving much faster or slower than the posted limit
- Driving too fast for road and/or weather conditions
- Failing to signal when turning or changing lanes
- Striking objects like curbs or parking barriers
- Getting lost while driving to places they have been before
- Noticeable scratches or dents on the vehicle
- Significantly diminished vision
- Coming too close to other cars when braking in traffic
How to Talk with a Senior About Their Driving
Having a conversation with a senior about giving up their car keys is not easy. It’s important to let the person know that your recommendation is based on their driving skills, not an arbitrary age. Some elders should surrender their keys at age 75, while others continue to drive carefully and safely into their 90s.
Ideally, you should address the problem in its early stages. That way, a senior can slowly curtail their driving rather than saying goodbye to this symbol of independence abruptly. However, if a senior has suddenly and clearly become a danger to themselves and others, you must take action immediately. Ultimately, you should ensure that your loved one understands that they are not being punished, but instead are being protected from causing harm to others and to themselves.
Making the Right Call
As a home health care provider, we know that telling a senior they should no longer drive is very difficult. However, when you see the signs, it’s imperative that you make the right call.
Contact us today to learn more about our offerings in a free consultation! We’re honored to provide quality care for seniors by seniors in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Longmont, Johnstown, Berthoud, Ault, Firestone, Wellington, Windsor, Frederick, Firestone, Laporte and surrounding areas.