One of the most stressful situations a Family Caregiver has to deal with is when a senior loved one becomes unsafe to drive and the “keys” need to be taken away. This loss of independence for your senior loved one can lead to feelings of frustration and stress, so you may feel reluctant to bring up the topic of whether or not your loved one is capable of driving a car.
You may worry about broaching the topic of driving for fear of upsetting your loved one, but consider this: 500 traffic accidents involving drivers over the age of 75 happen every day. Added to the fact that senior drivers account for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities, facts like this prove that monitoring your loved one’s ability to drive should be a top priority.
Watch for Signs
Take time before you broach the subject and look for these signs that driving could be unsafe for them:
- Change or decline in physical health – There are several medical conditions that may affect a person’s ability to drive a car. For instance, arthritis can affect your loved one’s mobility, causing difficulty in steering and neck movement. Poor eyesight or hearing are also factors that interfere with safe driving.
- Signs of dementia – If your loved one tends to forget directions or has memory loss, driving could prove dangerous because of the increased potential of them losing their way. They are also more likely to forget common traffic laws.
- Increase in traffic incidents - An increase in traffic violations is a good indication that they are not capable of driving safely. It is also a good idea to observe the condition of their vehicle and make note of new marks, dents or scratches.
How To Have "The Conversation"
Once you decide it’s time to have "the conversation" with your loved one about driving, the following are ways you can communicate with them that will help them understand your concerns:
- Include Them And Ask Their Opinion – Including your senior loved one in the conversation and having the loved one share their own opinion about their driving abilities will give you an understanding about their feelings. You may find that they are admittedly uncomfortable or willing to take a driving assessment to determine whether they are driving safely.
- Tell Them the Risk – Share with your loved one what the risks are if they drive. For example, hearing, eyesight and certain medications are all factors that can affect their driving capabilities. Hearing and vision are both things that can worsen gradually and your loved one may not realize a decline unless they are tested.
- Give Them Options – Make sure your loved one knows that just because they will no longer be behind the wheel, that does not mean they are “stuck at home.” Provide a list of people who are willing to provide transportation and plan routes around public transportation.
Your senior loved one’s safety is your top priority and transportation is a part of our daily lives, so finding a balance that provides your loved one with both is important. Freudenthal Home Health not only provides transportation services, but also the peace of mind that your loved one has the care and support they need. Call us today to find out more information.