When Your Loved One Should Stop Driving

Finally being able to receive a learner’s permit is a very exciting time in the life of every teenager. They are one step closer to that freedom they have so looked forward to ever since they were little. However, there are a great many things that they have to learn first before they get there—not the least of which is making sure they know the ins and outs and basic rules of the road. After they take their written test on that, they can finally get behind the wheel to take the driving test.

However, as people age, their motor skills, coordination, depth perception, and reaction time can diminish. This can also include their abilities to drive safely behind the wheel. It can be a very hard discussion to have, but it can eventually be necessary. The last thing anyone wants is for their older loved one to hurt themselves or someone else simply because they drove for longer than they were safely capable of driving. As we’ve discussed in other articles, elders want to remain as independent and self-sufficient as possible, and driving is one way they can do that. Thus, when their driving ability is brought into question, some may get defensive or even visibly angry with their caregivers or other loved ones. It can help, though, to include the elder in the decision-making process. By doing that, you’ll be able to make sure their thoughts and feelings are taken into account.

Another thing that may help is to discuss the situation together with other family members or doctors. No matter what, however, there may come a time where you have to make that decision for them—for their own safety and your peace of mind, as well as that of your family, and the safety of other drivers and pedestrians too.

There are a lot of different ways that aging can affect driving, such as:

  • A slowdown in response time
  • Loss of clarity in both vision and hearing
  • Loss of muscle strength and flexibility
  • Drowsiness due to medications
  • Any reduction in their ability to focus or concentrate, and finally
  • A lower tolerance for alcohol

If you notice any of the above signs in your loved one, it might be time to sit down together and have a frank discussion about the issue. However, it is also important to note that any of these changes by themselves doesn’t necessarily greatly impair an individual’s abilities on the road. Caregivers should regularly check up on the person’s driving skills in order to see whether they just need to alter their driving habits or how much they drive, or if they need to relinquish their driving altogether.

No matter the outcome, it is still a difficult decision to come to, and can be difficult for both you and your loved one to accept. But in the end, keeping in mind that you’re doing it to keep them safe, as well as keeping those around them safe, can help ease the weight of the decision.