Many of us associate driving with independence, so it can be hard to decide when it’s time to give up the wheel. As we age, operating a motor vehicle can become dangerous to ourselves and others – especially with certain eye health issues, dementia, or other conditions that may lead to confusion.
For caregivers, having a conversation with your loved one about whether they should still be driving can be extremely difficult. Before you have that discussion, look out for warning signs that may indicate there’s a problem:
- Mysterious dents on the car
- Difficulty turning around to look while backing up
- Confusing the gas and brake pedals
- Increased irritability while driving
- Misjudging left-land turns
- Difficulty parking the car
- Unable to consistently stay within lines on the road
- Delayed reaction or response times
- Driving at the wrong speed
- Driving with the emergency brake on
If your loved one is not open to having a discussion about driving, here are some conversation starters that may help:
- “Mom, how about we go to the grocery store and drive around the neighborhood? It’s been a while since we’ve ridden together and I want to see everyone’s flowers.”
- “Hey Dad, what happened to the car? Are you okay? I care about your safety.”
- “Let’s plan out your schedule for the week, Grandpa. We’ll figure out how to get you to all your appointments.”
- “Grandma, the new doctor’s office is a lot farther from your house. It’s quite the trip. Do you want someone to go with you? Let’s talk about options for getting you there.”
There’s also a common misconception that driving yourself is cheaper and more convenient. Seniors often think they won’t be able to go anywhere or see friends and family anymore, but that is not the case. There are many alternative options that can help seniors remain mobile and independent, like the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly
, which includes transportation
for participants both to and from PACE centers and outside appointments.
Caregivers and their older loved ones should get the facts and discuss options together before making an action plan. Communication, compassion, and keeping an open mind are all very important as you make a decision together.