Taking the car keys away from Mom or Dad is a difficult decision. Most family caregivers don’t want to have to be in the position of telling an aging parent that driving is no longer an option. However, the threat of a serious accident is one important reason that a conversation about safe senior driving may have to take place at some time.
When is the time?
Deciding when a loved one’s driving abilities have become significantly affected can be challenging. If you’re wondering whether the senior in your life may need to stop driving, have a conversation with his or her doctor. Ask for an opinion and a list of things to look for that may indicate that it may be time to put the car keys away.
Here are ten common signs of dangerous senior driving. This is by no means comprehensive, but it does give home caregivers a starting place.
- Disorientation. Drivers who regularly becomes disoriented while driving – not remembering where they are going, forgetting routes that they have traveled many times, not recalling why they are going to a particular destination – may not be safe drivers.
- Close calls. When driving with a loved one, pay attention to how close he or she comes to the curb, other cars, and pedestrians. If there are repeated close calls, he or she may not be able to safely judge distances.
- Brake/gas confusion. Stepping on the gas when intending to step on the brake can have serious consequences.
- Intersection issues. Running a red light or ignoring a stop sign may mean that the driver’s ability to focus and to remember traffic rules has been impacted.
- Sleepiness. Some seniors tire quickly and others may experience drowsiness due to certain medications. Driving while drowsy is a bad idea.
- Sore neck. Does your senior loved one have difficulty turning his or her head in order to see properly when changing lanes?
- Road rage – from others. Angry drivers can be an annoyance and their opinion is not always trustworthy; however, if other drivers are constantly honking at or angrily passing your loved one’s car, those other drivers may be angry for a reason.
- Glares. Headlights, bright lights, and glares from roadside objects are unavoidable; if they impede a driver’s vision to a significant degree, they can cause accidents.
- Jangled nerves. On the whole, a good driver is a calm and controlled driver; those who are excessively nervous or anxious behind the wheel are prone to create problems for themselves and others.
- Police involvement. If the police have been forced to warn a loved one about poor driving, this can indicate serious issues – especially if there have been multiple warnings.
Home caregivers are often placed in a difficult position when it comes to seniors’ driving skills. However, for those who have reason to be concerned it is vital to broach this difficult subject. For additional information on drivers’ safety, please visit www.helpforalzheimersfamilies.com for additional tips on having the conversation about driving.
- Staying Safe on the Road: Tips & Tools to Remain a Good Driver as You Age (babyboomersus.net)
- Why are Seniors More Likely to Die in a Car Accident? (modern-senior.com)