Taking the car keys away from an aging parent is one of the hardest things you can do, but for many of us, the time comes when it is necessary to do so. Your loved one might not take it well, but if they have reached a point where they and those around them are safer for it, then it becomes the right thing to do.
So let us talk about how to tell if your aging parent should still be driving.
Age Is Just a Number
Let us start with the fact that just because your parent is aging does not mean they should not be driving. There is no age at which everyone becomes an unsafe driver. Some people develop medical conditions that make it difficult for them to drive in their 70s, while others remain healthy and active well into their 90s.
So if age is the only factor you are considering when thinking about taking the car keys away from your aging parent, think again.
Medical Conditions That Can Impair Driving Ability
A reduced ability to perform certain tasks is a common symptom of aging, and driving is one of those things many people struggle with as they age. It could be arthritis making it more difficult for them to grip the steering wheel, or failing eyesight making it harder for them to read road signs, judge distances, or even to see curbs or lane markers.
All forms of cognitive decline, including dementia, can also have a detrimental effect on their ability to drive. It could cause them to have a delayed response to an unexpected situation, or to get lost, even in a familiar area.
Signs Your Aging Parent Should Not Be Driving
If you are unsure whether it is time to have a conversation with your aging parent about driving, the AARP has a list of things to look out for, including:
- Not driving fast enough or slow enough for road conditions
- Frequent minor accidents resulting in scrapes, dents, and dings on their vehicle
- Difficulty concentrating or staying awake
How to Talk to Your Aging Parent About Driving
If you have become convinced it is time for your aging parents to stop driving, there is a right way and a wrong way to broach the subject. The wrong way is to start by telling them you are taking the keys away.
The right way is to have a conversation with them in which you explain your concerns about their safety and give them a chance to express their fears or concerns. They might still be resistant to the idea of giving up the car keys, but there is also the possibility they will admit it might be time for them to stop driving. Even if they do not agree, at least they know your actions are coming from a place of love and concern.
People have a hard time giving up the car keys because they fear giving up their independence. Often they fear moving into assisted living will also mean giving up their independence, when in fact it means the opposite. The goal of assisted living is to help older Americans with the day-to-day tasks so they can continue to live their best lives.
That is why we at Stillwater Senior Living make it easy for those residents who can still drive safely to continue doing so. For those who are unable to drive themselves, we have drivers who can take them where they want to go so they can continue doing all the things they need and want to do to live life to its fullest.
If you want to know more about how we help our residents, just reach out to get the conversation started. We are always happy to talk.