Friday, January 8, 2016

Should Your Senior Still Be Driving?

Just because your parent reaches a certain age doesn’t necessarily mean you should take away their car keys. Many seniors are actually fairly good drivers because they have years of experience. But when their health and memory begin to deteriorate, it may be time to re-evaluate the situation.

Take your senior out and let them drive. Travel on local roads as well as the highway to see how they do going both slow and fast and with varying amounts of traffic. This can give you more insight into things you should be concerned about. You may find that you don’t have to take their car keys away completely yet, but simply limit them to driving short distances, only during the daytime, or not on the highway.

However, there are some things that should send up red flags and make you carefully evaluate whether or not they should get behind the wheel:

  • Vision or hearing problems. While driving, you must be constantly aware of what is going on around you. Vision problems can make it more difficult to safely change lanes, read street signs, or see obstacles in the roadway. Not being able to hear sirens or honking that can indicate danger puts more emphasis on vision and mental alertness.
  • Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. Memory problems can mean getting lost even in familiar locations. Also, if your loved one suddenly loses focus or becomes confused, they may pose a threat to themselves or others on the road. There is also the risk of confusing the gas and brake pedal and accidently pressing the wrong one.
  • Medications. Certain medications can make your senior drowsy or slow down their reaction time. In the event of an emergency, they may not be able to respond quickly enough to avoid danger. Or, they could nod off behind the wheel which can lead to an accident. It’s a good idea to talk to their doctor and ask about any risks medications can pose to driving.
  • Dents or scratches on the car. If you notice that the car is already getting dinged up, it may be a sign that your senior shouldn’t be driving any longer. They may downplay these incidents because they don’t want to lose their independence, but it should be a cause for concern.

It can be a difficult topic to bring up, but one that is very important. You want to ensure that your senior is safe and not driving when they shouldn’t be. Public transportation could be one alternative option if there are services nearby. Hiring an in-home caregiver can also reduce the need of your loved one to go out as often. A caregiver can escort them on outings, assist with shopping, and attend various events with them. Your senior can continue to live an active life regardless of whether or not they drive.

Contact Always Best Care of Asheville-Hendersonville at (828) 989-7263 or visit us online to learn more about our in-home care and senior services and how they can benefit your loved one.

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