Many adult children have concerns about their aging parent’s ability to drive. However, this can be a difficult conversation to start. After all, car keys are a sign of independence and most older adults feel like they have to admit that they are unfit to drive.
Before you make any decisions, it’s important to note that many seniors are perfectly fine to drive into their 80s and even 90s. On the other hand, it’s also important to understand that aging often comes with health conditions that make driving difficult and/or dangerous such as hearing and vision problems, slower reaction time, and more. Therefore, it’s a good idea to regularly assess your parent’s driving ability.
Caring Healthcare, an in-home healthcare provider located in Columbia, SC, offers a variety of care needs including transportation, companionship, medical care, and more.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the signs that your aging loved one is unfit to drive.
Top 7 Signs
Below are the top 7 indicators that your aging loved one should not be driving:
Vehicle has fresh dents/scratches
The first step is to examine their vehicle. If there are fresh dents/scrapes on the vehicle or if there is damage to the garage door, mailbox, shrubbery, fence, or driveway area, it may be time for them to retire their keys. You may also want to check on their auto insurance rates and find out if they’ve gotten a traffic ticket/warning.
Driving habits have changed
If their driving habits have significantly changed, it’s a good indicator that they may be unfit to drive. Red flags include:
- No longer buckling up- when they used to all the time
- Not coming to a complete stop at stop signs
- Not looking in their blind spot when changing lanes
Straining to see
Conditions such as osteoporosis or a curved spine may prevent them from being able to see over the steering wheel. Stiffness and pain may prevent them from being able to turn enough to check their blind spot when changing lanes or backing up.
Driving is stressful, exhausting, and/or confusing
If your aging loved one is compensating for physical challenges, driving can be stressful and exhausting. In some cases, they may be easily distracted or show signs of confusion and/or anger.
Some areas of concern may include:
- Getting lost in areas they are familiar with
- Struggling to back up or turn the vehicle around
- Difficulty seeing/keeping track of road signs, pavement markings, or traffic signals
- Mixing up the accelerator and brake pedals
- Being intolerant of distractions
- Slower response to unexpected situations
- Road rage
- Behaving in ways that cause other drivers to honk
Frequent close calls
If your senior loved one is having frequent close calls, or narrowly missed accidents, it’s an indication that they are unfit to drive. This may be due to underestimating the speed of oncoming cars, misjudging gaps in traffic, or misreading traffic signals/road signs.
Night driving makes them nervous
If your aging loved one avoids driving at night, it’s a good time to pay attention to their overall driving. Often, people who don’t want to drive at night are struggling with vision impairments.
Others are scared/concerned
If other relatives and friends are not comfortable riding with your senior loved one or if they express concerns, you may want to pay attention to them.
Caring Healthcare Can Help with Transportation Needs
If you have evaluated your senior loved one’s driving skills and determined that they are unfit to drive, it’s important to help them understand that this doesn’t mean they are stuck at home all the time. Other loved ones can step up to help with transportation needs or you can hire a caregiver to help.
If you need to take the keys away from your aging loved one, it’s important to have a conversation with them. Don’t simply take the keys and expect them to understand. Most are resistant to giving up their independence.
The caregivers are Caring Healthcare can provide a variety of care services including transportation, companionship, meal prep, medication reminders, medical care, and more.