Perhaps the greatest indicator of freedom in our society is being able to hop in the car and take off to whatever destination we please, whenever we please. And for older adults, relinquishing the car keys is one of the most difficult transitions faced. However, there comes a point in our later years when it’s simply unsafe to continue to drive, for a variety of reasons: reduced reaction time, poor vision, medication side effects, and many others.
Ultimately, the senior’s doctor can determine when it’s appropriate for the individual to cease driving. The following 5-step strategy from Partners in Senior Care can help ease the transition and promote the senior’s independence throughout the process.
- Pre-plan. While your older loved one is still safe behind the wheel, begin conversations to get his or her input on putting a plan in place to cover future concerns. Planting the seed early allows the senior time to adjust to the idea, and to retain a sense of control. Jot down a simple plan that both you and the senior can agree upon, and store it away until the need arises to revisit the issue.
- Stay alert. Keep a close eye on your older loved one’s driving ability as time progresses. Key indicators to watch for that could indicate the need for the senior to begin to limit driving include distraction and/or confusion, displaying an overabundance of caution, and showing a delayed response.
- Seek advice. Once the above red flags or any others are noted, it’s time to talk with the senior’s physician for recommendations. It could be that a senior driving refresher would be beneficial. Or, there may be an easily correctable problem, such as the need for a different eyeglass prescription. The doctor may suggest limiting driving to short distances during daylight hours and optimal weather conditions.
- Make the transition. If driving issues are not corrected, it’s time to ensure the senior, and other drivers and pedestrians, remain safe by having the senior cease driving. Pull out the notes previously agreed upon with the senior and review together.
- Reassure. Provide your senior loved one with strategies to maintain independence safely. Family, friends and neighbors can be on hand to take the senior out shopping, to hair and medical appointments, and on fun outings. Partners in Senior Care is also available with safe, reliable transportation and accompaniment services to fill in as desired.
For more tips on easing the transition for seniors who are no longer able to drive, or to learn more about our escorted transportation assistance for older adults, contact the in-home care team at Partners in Senior Care. We can make sure that your senior loved one is fully able to get out and about according to his or her preferred schedule. Serving seniors throughout Chicagoland, including Lake and Cook counties, our professional in-home care assistance is just a phone call away at 847-548-1330.