Is it time to take away the keys?
One of the most exciting times in one’s lifetime was when he or she received their first driver’s license. You could then go wherever you wanted, with whomever you wanted, and when you wanted. So it is understandable that when seniors lose their driving privileges they feel they have lost their independence, which may result in depression and frustration. Taking away the keys from a parent or loved one is one of the most important decisions and actions you will probably face as a family caregiver or friend.
A person’s age should not be the only reason for taking away the keys. Many seniors in their 80s and into their 90s are safe drivers. The most driving accident-prone Americans are those aged 15 through 19 years. An evaluation of their safe driving skills should begin with a review of their vision and physical status. Conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma can seriously impair their driving ability. A visit to an ophthalmologist can identify vision problems and provide you with recommendations about driving restrictions. Hearing loss should also be evaluated since warning sounds may not be heard while driving. Since driving takes ability and strength in both arms and legs to control the vehicle, a physician should be consulted to assess these capabilities.
Diseases and their impact on driving must be considered. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Diabetic neuropathy can be particularly restrictive and a physician’s evaluation is critical to determine the risks. Medication can also affect one’s driving ability. Some prescription drugs can cause drowsiness and slowing of a person’s reaction time. Again a Physicians evaluation is essential.
According to the National Institute on Aging, there are a number of critical indications that a senior may be losing the judgment or ability to drive. Some of them are as follows: Incompetent driving at night; erratic driving; getting lost frequently; at-fault accidents/near crashes or dents and scrapes on the car; increased traffic tickets/warnings.
If after the analysis of risk factors and warning signs support taking away the keys, then it’s time for “The Talk.” This subject has to be discussed with the utmost diplomacy since the loss of driving privileges generally means a loss of independence. You may want to involve other members of the family, or a trusted and respected friend or even the family doctor. The goal is to review the reasons why their driving could be dangerous for them and others. Avoid confrontation and reassure them that this is for their own good and you are concerned about their safety. This is the time to discuss alternative methods of transportation. These include public services such as bus and train, scheduling trips with relatives and friends, and a shuttle service for seniors if available.
After all efforts have been exhausted to convince a loved one to stop driving, and they still do not agree, it’s time for tough love and you need to take the keys and dispose of the car, if no other qualified drivers live in the home. This may seem like drastic action but it is absolutely essential to protect your loved one and others they may meet on the road omeprazole dr 40 mg.