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Let’s Talk About Driving

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The ability to drive is something that many of us take for granted most of our lives. When the time comes that we may have to retire from driving, it is a major life transition that takes an emotional toll on oneself and the people around them. To understand what it means to give up driving, it’s important to understand what driving means to an individual.

We all have important things to do and places to go; family events, work, doctor’s appointments or the grocery store. These mundane tasks take a huge impact on an individual that can no longer carry them out as simply as they once did. However, every situation is different, and sometimes the family of the senior may feel relieved that they have given up driving. Some challenges that arise from a senior no longer able to drive are:

  • The to and from. Even if a senior is living in a care community, they still need to get to appointments, events, and to the store. A smart initiative would be to get in contact with senior ride services, or other family or friends to develop a  plan. It’s best to think of this before the senior stops driving, if possible.
  • The stress of a depressed senior. A recent study funded by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the U.S Centers for Disease Control Prevention revealed that when older drivers stop driving they may be more likely to feel depressed and develop other health problems than their peers who remain on the road.
  • The guilt. Family caregivers can feel guilty about their role in encouraging a loved one to stop driving. If they based their decisions and recommendations on fact and helped an older adult find alternative transportation options, there is nothing to feel guilty about.

It is evident that seniors and their families are not always about to see eye-to-eye about whether that older adult should continue to drive or not. Here are some strategies to help get everyone in the family on the same page:

  • Get the facts and decide the best course of action. For instance, an evaluation from an Occupational Therapist can provide an objective third-party voice.
  • Blame the disease. Remind an aging loved one that they did not lose their ability to drive because someone arbitrarily ‘took it away.’ It was the changes experienced from their disease or condition of aging that made it no longer safe to drive.
  • Have a plan in place. Always present a comprehensive plan of alternatives to help give that individual the confidence that he or she can still face life with independence.

Remember, the transportation services of a Home Instead CAREGiver can drastically help seniors who are no longer driving!


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