Continual risks exist for all but especially for elders. It is difficult to imagine a world where one becomes dependent on others for transportation to social events, shopping, church, errands and vacation destinations. The reality of aging, however, does predict there will be a time when the keys may need to be given to someone else. Here’s how to tell you or your loved one are able to continue to drive safely.
Driving seems effortless, but is complex and requires healthy cognition, quick reflexes, and flexible motor skills. Common medical conditions impairing driving are dementia, chronic pain (especially the neck and back), neuropathy, failing vision and diagnoses requiring medication inducing drowsiness.
Reluctance to Drive
Older drivers may or may not recognize indicators of being unsafe behind the wheel, but other drivers and family members will notice. We have all followed cars straddling lanes, going much slower than the speed limit or braking unnecessarily. These are signs visible to all traffic. Conditions causing unpredictable actions need to be considered. Vision could be impaired by macular degeneration or a stroke. Reflexes may be slowed by painful arthritis. Directions are sometimes difficult to understand and may have a driver backing up after missing turns regardless of traffic. Close calls with mailboxes, garage doors and curbs are additional signs now is the time for a conversation about whether your loved one is able to continue to drive safely.
Have a professional assessment
If one decides they are unsafe on the road and easily hands over the keys to someone else, consider this act a gift. A conversation regarding this subject is uncomfortable but there are others who are able to help generate a decision. Certified driver rehabilitation specialists (CDRS) are professionally trained and available to evaluate the driving abilities of others, especially Seniors. A professional would share honest opinions and as a third party is able to avoid conflicts or arguments a family member might receive. If one is still safe behind the wheel, a CDRS will help them relearn lost skills and may even provide special mirrors or adaptive devices to support safe driving.
Making the transition
There is no typical age at which Seniors stop driving. Many drive well into their nineties. AAA reports more fatal crashes per mile traveled after the age of 75 even though there is increased usage of seatbelts and a lower percentage of alcohol usage. When the choice to no longer drive is made, other decisions will need to be contemplated. An active lifestyle is important, and isolation should be avoided.
- Public Transportation – Local public libraries provide information on bus routes and other transportation. Brochures with routes for each neighborhood bus stop are available at a library. Ask for assistance or partner with another person until public transportation is comfortable.
- Family members, neighbors or fellow parishioners may be able to provide rides to a local grocery store or shopping area. Do not hesitate to ask.
- Caregivers are available from private services to provide transportation with the added benefit of socialization.
Bridge to Better Living
Independence is not lost when no longer driving. An excellent decision to assure transportation is available is to move to a Retirement Community. Bridge to Better Living is able to help and assist you to find a new way to live … Independent, Assisted, Memory Care Assisted or Skilled. If transportation is important to YOU, it is important to us.
Call Bridge to Better Living now to learn about their no-cost to client service. If you need a ride, Bridge to Better Living will gladly drive!