Should the elderly drive? This is not an easy question to ask, particularly if you – or someone you care about – is trying to remain as independent as possible. Yet to be candid, as we age we quite naturally lose some of the required skills to safely operate a motorized vehicle. And when out on the road, an age-impaired driver doesn’t merely run the risk of hurting just themselves. So do everyone a favor and consider the following to see if the elderly drivers in your life should remain on the road…
Eye tests are standard requirements for drivers but the elderly often face particularly swift vision degeneration so an outdated test doesn’t mean they’re safe to drive. Night vision and depth perception can be some of the biggest challenges for older drivers so at the very least they should consider being off the roads before sunset.
When discussing vision problems with the driver in question do your best to approach the topic in a neutral way that doesn’t make the driver feel judged or questioned. Though if you do find their vision simply doesn’t pass muster then you might have to deliver a dose of tough love in order to get them to refrain from driving.
As people get older it’s normal for their dexterity to begin to falter. Walking becomes more tentative as balance falters, and hand/eye coordination may begin to decline, too. Not to mention one’s reflexes naturally begin to slow. Now consider many of those components when deciding if the elder under consideration is truly able to safely drive a car. If they’re repeatedly getting into little scrapes here and there, or having an on-going war with trashcans and mailboxes consider yourself lucky to be finding out early. Don’t wait until your loved-one has an accident with another moving vehicle before making alternate arrangements for their transportation.
No one wants to talk about this issue, and that’s perfectly understandable. Though if your loved one is experiencing major moments of confusion or delusion then it is imperative to make sure they are kept safe at all times. If experiencing dementia there is nothing to say that they’ve forgotten that they used to drive so it is crucial to make sure to keep your loved-one from having access to keys lying about, an accesible car, etc.
It is very difficult for adults to give up their independence. It’s also difficult for the younger generation to have to sometimes make that call for people they love. But if they are a danger to themselves and others it is obviously something that needs to be addressed. When discussing this potentially necessary change do your best to do it in a loving and respectful manner, and if you find you can’t do it alone then get other family members or even physicians on board to back you up. Safeguarding your aging loved ones is sometimes painful, but always necessary. They looked after you and now it’s your turn to give back.
Written by Erin Nolan. Has your parent been in a fender bender? Make a claim here: www.accidentclaims.org