For many older Americans, driving provides a much-needed outlet to the outside world. It helps them remain connected to the community, go to the grocery store, and can come to represent what they may feel is dwindling freedom in their golden years. For these reasons, it can be difficult to talk to your elderly parent about the fact that it may be time for him or her to stop driving. It is likely to come to a point where your elderly parent cannot safely operate a vehicle anymore. Despite how difficult giving up driving may be, the safety of your parent and others should be put first. Here, we will talk about some signs that it may be time for your elder parent to stop driving.
Is It Time For Your Elderly Parent to Stop Driving?
Many of the deterioration in our abilities as we age can be detrimental to the safe operation of a vehicle. If your parent is showing signs of delayed responses when unexpected situations arise, for instance, this could be a sign that it is time for your parent to stop driving. Quick reaction time to the unexpected can make the difference between life or death on the road.
If your elderly parent seems to be easily distracted when driving, this can be a major red flag. Distracted driving can be extremely dangerous at any age. If your parent is messing with car features, directing attention to passengers, or is generally fidgeting which leads to drawing attention away from the road, this can also be a sign that it is time to hang up the car keys.
Does your elderly parent seem to be drifting in and out of lanes? Has he or she been hitting curbs and racking up dents or scratches on the car lately? These are, thankfully, incidences of minor property damage issues. They are, however, signs that it may be time to stop driving. Hitting curbs is one thing, but the next time it could be your parent backing into a person in a parking lot.
While your parent may still be grasping onto the ability to drive, he or she may still be worried on some level about the ability to safely operate the vehicle. If your parent seems to not be as confident operating a vehicle as it has appeared in the past, your parent may already know on some level that it is time to stop driving. It can be a difficult thing to admit and a decrease in confidence while driving can be a telltale sign that even your parent knows the time has arrived.
When looking for signs that it may be time for your parent to stop driving, consider developing a plan for your parent when this time arrives. Investigate community senior center outings that provide transportation. Figure out a schedule where you can take your parent on errands and visits he or she wants to make. Have a plan so that you can talk to your parent about not driving anymore without it signaling the end of the freedom that comes with driving. While the transition may still be difficult, it will definitely help.