Growing older doesn't automatically mean you should stop driving. Senior care professionals in Vancouver note that plenty of older adults can still safely operate a vehicle.
However, there are some signs, when taken together, indicating that it may simply not be smart for an older adult to be on the road.
1. Slowed Reaction Times
It's natural to lose a bit of your edge with age, but this could be a major issue on the road.
If you notice a loved one is suddenly stopping at green lights, not braking soon enough or repeatedly having "close calls," it may be time to have a conversation about driving.
2. Chronic Aches and Pains
Experts say that an older adult's physical state is a good indicator of driving ability as well. Advanced arthritis or other health conditions that cause pain or stiffness can make it difficult to perform simple tasks like moving your foot between the brake and gas pedals or gripping a steering wheel.
Older adults who have trouble moving about or who experience chronic pain should likely not be driving.
3. Small Driving Accidents
Even the best drivers may have a small accident now and then, but elderly care experts say that this can be a warning sign as well.
When an older adult frequently has small mishaps like bumping into a curb, swiping a mailbox, drifting into another lane or hitting someone while parking, senior living professionals recommend evaluating whether or not it's safe for that person to be on the road.
4. Confusion Behind the Wheel
Safe driving involves being able to act quickly and practice defensive driving techniques. However, it also requires a certain level of mental acuity. Noticing any hesitation or confusion behind the wheel is a sure sign that it's time to hang up the keys.
Older adults who forget where they're going, call family members for directions or become too easily distracted while driving are likely unsafe drivers.
Safety is the Priority
When having this conversation, it's important to be respectful and allow your loved one to maintain his or her dignity. Rather than taking away a privilege, frame it as a safety issue, and offer solutions. Many home care assistance services in Vancouver can help with driving needs if family members cannot, so this is an option to consider when broaching the subject of whether or not an older adult should be driving.
For more information about driving support services for older adults, contact us at Home Instead Senior Care.