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How to Identify When to Stop Driving and Still Maintain Senior Independence

There’s nothing quite as freeing as hopping in the car whenever we please and driving off to whatever destination we choose. That’s why for many older adults, determining that it’s no longer safe to drive can produce feelings of great loss. Yet with effects of aging such as reduced vision, slowed reaction time, side effects from medications, and more, the reality is, it’s often unsafe to continue driving in later years.
The good news is, it’s possible to ease the transition from relinquishing the keys, and to maintain senior independence. The tactics below from Senior HomeCare of Tucson, the top providers of in elder care in Tucson, are a good place to start when addressing driving safety for seniors.

  1. Be proactive. Well before it’s time to consider the need for your senior loved one to stop driving, it’s a good idea to initiate the subject as something that will need to be considered “down the road.” Ask your loved one how she would like to handle the situation when the time comes, allowing her to have control and a say in how to best remain active and retain her freedom and independence. Write down her feelings and set the document aside to revisit as the time draws nearer.
  2. Be aware. As time goes by, stay alert to any warning signs that could point to the need to re-evaluate the senior’s ability to drive safely. Watch for any signs of confusion or distraction, slowed response times, or excessive caution when driving.
  3. Be an advocate. If any red flags arise that lead you to believe your senior – and other drivers and pedestrians – may be at risk for harm due to her driving, it’s time to take action. Pull back out the document you created earlier and review with the senior what she had agreed to at that time. If she’s resistant to giving up the keys, talk with her doctor to see if an underlying and correctable medical cause could be at play, such as a change in her eyeglass prescription.
  4. Be firm. It’s important that safety never be compromised. If the doctor determines that there’s no medical resolution for her driving challenges, enlist his support in convincing the senior of the need to stop driving immediately. In extreme circumstances, such as if the senior has dementia, you may need to hide the keys, or provide her with an alternate set of keys that will not start the car if it helps her feel more comfortable to retain a keyring.
  5. Be helpful. Even though the senior can no longer drive, it’s important for her to remain active and engaged in the world around her. If you’re able, provide her with plenty of opportunities for outings according to her specific requests, such as maintaining her weekly hair appointment, continuing to attend religious services, and lunch dates with friends. See if other friends and family members will pitch in to help with driving as well.

Senior HomeCare of Tucson can help by providing accompanied transportation services, whenever and wherever a senior wants to go. Contact us at 847-548-1330 to learn more about our top-rated elder care in Tucson and surrounding areas, and the ways that we’re helping to foster senior independence and improve quality of life for older adults.

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