In the United States of America, there isn’t an upper age limit for driving ability. In other words, elderly adults can continue driving as long as they show the proper authorities that they are able. However, there’s a gray area where seniors may be a danger to themselves and others before they are officially notified by authorities that they should not drive. In these cases, it’s up to family caregivers to talk to their aging relatives and determine whether their ability to drive is over.
Due to physical and mental health issues, many aging adults do reach a stage where their friends and family members notice that they are not operating the vehicle as they should. These poor driving abilities may lead to an increase in fender benders, near misses, and even more serious crashes. Family caregivers must make the hard choice of taking the aging adult’s keys and preventing them from driving.
Here are some of the warning signs that signal to friends and family members that an elderly adult should no longer be driving:
- Expressing nervousness about driving at night or driving too fast.
- Skipping busy roads and avoiding highways.
- Ignoring basic traffic rules.
- Frequently getting honked at by other drivers.
- Poor parking skills due to lack of depth perception.
- Bumping into stationary objects like parking barricades and parked cars.
- Unexplained scrapes on the vehicle.
An elderly person’s physical and mental health can also give family caregivers some clues as to their capability in operating a car:
- Recent illness or injury that affects balance and reflexes.
- Extremely poor vision and hearing.
- Moderate arthritis, muscle spasms, seizures, stiff back, or other illness that affects physical ability.
- Moderate cognitive decline that leads to getting confused or lost.
- Medication with side effects that include dizziness, fatigue, or other physical impairment.
- Alcohol or drug abuse.
- Vigorous denial that their abilities are slipping even a little.
There’s no doubt that family members will struggle to talk to their aging loved one about turning over the keys. Because giving up driving is so emotionally charged, it’s a good idea to present transportation alternatives. Many family members turn to elder care providers. Elder care professionals can provide transportation services for the elderly to get them to doctor’s appointments, shopping, and to socialize. Giving up driving can be a lot easier when elderly adults know that an elder care provider can take them instead.
Nobody wants to be responsible for an accident, but the risks increase when seniors get behind the wheel. To keep the aging adult active, family caregivers can look into hiring an elder care provider.