Being able to drive a car is often an important skill that most older adults cherish since it not only brings about convenience but also allows them to stay independent. However, it can become unsafe and undangerous for some older adults to drive due to a variety of issues. Although there is no exact age where driving becomes risky, a combination of different things such as poor vision, reduced mobility or slower cognitive function can be worrying. If you are anxious about your loved one, read on to determine if they need to stop driving or not.
Are There Any Major Health Changes?
First and foremost, consider if they have had any major health changes recently that could possibly impede their driving abilities. If your loved one was diagnosed with conditions such as strokes, arthritis, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other similar health complications, then perhaps it is necessary to have a chat with them about driving. Other health problems include deteriorating vision or Parkinson’s disease.
Are Their Skills Intact?
Even if your family member has not had any major health changes recently, they may begin to experience a gradual decline in health that may eventually make it dangerous for them to drive. You can consider taking a short car ride with them as the driver to assess and evaluate if their driving skills are still intact. Pay close attention to if they can still adhere to proper speed limits, safely navigate and switch between lanes and follow road signs. If they are constantly struggling to do so then these could be signs indicating that they no longer ought to drive. Another issue that often plagues older adults is driving at night or at unfamiliar locations. These can affect their vision or cause them to feel confused and uncertain which may make driving tricky. Thus, maybe instead of completely banning them from driving, suggest that they stick to short drives within their neighborhood during the day.
Are Their Cognitive Abilities Intact?
Last but not least, you should evaluate if their cognitive functioning is sufficient enough for them to drive. With cognitive ailments such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive changes are gradual and it can be tricky to determine whether it is safe or not to continue driving. If your loved one often seems confused, anxious, or disorientated this could be a sign that they need to stop driving. Likewise, if they are often late to scheduled appointments because they cannot remember driving routes or are getting lost, then you can suggest that they stop driving. Another useful point to note is if your loved one’s personality has changed recently. If they have become very easily irritable or angry this could cause problems when they are driving.
If you think that your loved one should stop driving, sit them down and have a talk with them. Be sure to be respectful and polite so you do not come across as if you are infringing on their independence and freedom. Be mindful of your tone so that the conversation goes smoothly. You can also lessen the blow by suggesting they hire a driver so that they are still able to travel conveniently.