Most of us take driving for granted. As we age, changes in vision, hearing, response time, use of medications, and other factors can affect our ability to drive safely. Driving safety for seniors is more than just about being able to drive their car. It affects our sense of being mobile and independence. For many seniors, when they can no longer drive, there is a true sense of loss. It’s important to keep seniors driving safely for as long as possible. That said, if the time comes when a family member’s driving ability comes into question, it can be the beginning of a difficult process for all involved, particularly the person who may be losing the independence afforded by being able to simply get behind the wheel and go somewhere at will.
The hard fact though, is that there is a lot at stake. The driver’s safety, the safety of others on the road, and the legal liabilities all come into play. And although no one wants to be the one to hurt someone’s pride, there will be that moment when someone steps up to try and finesse the next steps. This is not an easy task. Assertions that it just “might be time” will almost certainly be met with fierce resistance.
AARP has created a list of the top ten signs for you or a loved one to look for and consider. If you or a loved one experience even one of these occurrences there may be cause for concern. You might want to use this list as a conversation starter.
1. Almost crashing, with frequent "close calls"
2. Finding dents and scrapes on the car, on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, curbs, etc.
3. Getting lost, especially in familiar locations
4. Having trouble seeing or following traffic signals, road signs, and pavement markings
5. Responding more slowly to unexpected situations, or having trouble moving their foot from the gas to the brake pedal; confusing the two pedals
6. Misjudging gaps in traffic at intersections and on highway entrance and exit ramps
7. Experiencing road rage or causing other drivers to honk or complain
8. Easily becoming distracted or having difficulty concentrating while driving
9. Having a hard time turning around to check the rear view while backing up or changing lanes
10 Receiving multiple traffic tickets or "warnings" from law enforcement officers
There are several steps that you can take before the keys need to be surrendered. Recognizing that there may be a problem is the first step toward a solution. AARP has plenty of resources including Driver Safety courses and information to talk to friends or family about when discussing driving. Safe Driver classes and refresher courses are available in many communities. Another possibility is to speak with your doctor regarding any concentration or memory problems you or your loved one may be experiencing. If you are a close relative and are concerned, it might be helpful to ask for the doctor’s help in speaking with the person whose driving is in question.
Please call Senior Care Authority at (888) 854-3910 to reach a Senior Advisor in your area for a no-cost phone consultation. We have many resources to share with you. You can also find a local advisor on our website at www.seniorcareauthority.com. We’d be happy to talk this through with you to keep your family safe!
By: Marcy Baskin, Managing Director Senior Care Authority