George, 82, has been driving since he was 15. He’s driven coast to coast multiple times as a young man and always enjoyed being the designated chauffeur during family vacations and on Sunday drives to the country. George still likes to drive to the grocery and chat with the clerks. He still likes to drive to the gas station to fill up his car the second Saturday of each month. It’s second nature to him, as driving has been a part of his life since he was a teenager. The thought of giving it up simply goes against his decades-old daily routines.
Still, George’s children, who live out-of-state and have busy lives of their own, worry about his driving. In on a recent visit, they noticed declines in George’s hearing and sight and overall motor skills. The red flag was when they received a call from George’s neighbors that he’d back into their car parked across the street two times in one week. George’s children knew it was time for him to hand over the keys, as their elderly father now is a danger to himself and other drivers on the road. Although his health is good overall, the signs of aging are beginning to catch up with the 82-year-old.
No longer being able to drive can be hard to take for someone like George who’s been behind the wheel for 50-plus years, as a fundamental part of their independence is suddenly gone.
If you’re concerned with the safety of your elderly loved one behind the wheel, plan on discussing it as soon as possible. Help and advice is always available via senior care providers such as Physicians Choice Private Duty.
Below, we’ve provided some tips on how to approach elderly drivers if you believe them to be unfit to drive.
- First, identify the signs that your parent has a diminished capacity to drive. Does dad get lost while driving? Have frequent fender benders? Seem confused and is having problems understanding simple instructions? Recent declines in sight, hearing and motor skills?
- Plan out how you’re going to approach your elderly parent. Losing the ability to drive means losing the independence for visiting friends, shopping and other daily tasks. Don’t be discouraged if your parent is angry and defensive, rather go into the conversation with realistic expectations.
- Introduce the subject during a calm and relaxing time of day. Include — don’t alienate — your parent in the decision process.
- Discuss the matter with your elderly parent’s friends, doctors and other family. Having opinions from other people your parent respects can help them make the right decision.
- Don’t make the decision too hastily. Sometimes bringing up the subject then sitting on it a few days before revisiting it allows all involved to reflect on it, thus making the proper decision.
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