When is it time to give up driving? This is always a difficult question and there is no specific answer beyond: It just depends. We know that this is a very difficult matter to address, so please use the information that follows as a guide for handling a sticky situation.
The information for this article was taken from the following website http://helpguide.org/elder/senior_citizen_driving.htm
Written by: Tina de Benedictis, Ph.D., Gina Kemp, M.A., Doug Russell, LCSW, and Monika White, Ph.D.
Risk Factors of Aging That Can Affect Driving Ability
Visual Decline – Vision declines with age, which means depth perception and judging the speed of oncoming traffic becomes more difficult. The eyes also lose the ability to process light, which makes night vision worse and causes more sensitivity to bright sunlight and glare. By age 60, you need three times the amount of light that you did at age 20 in order to drive safely after nightfall.
Hearing Loss – Approximately one-third of adults over age 65 are hearing-impaired. Because hearing loss happens gradually, seniors may not realize they are missing important cues when driving, such as honking, emergency sirens, or a child’s bicycle bell.
Limited mobility and increased reaction time – With age, flexibility may decrease as response time increases. A full range of motion is crucial on the road. In addition, chronic conditions can limit mobility (rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, sleep apnea, heart disease, or diabetes).
Medications – People often take more medications as they age. Certain medications, as well as a combination of medications and alcohol, can increase driving risk. Be particularly careful about medication side effects and interactions between medications.
Drowsiness – Aging can make sleeping more difficult, resulting in daytime tiredness and an increased tendency to doze off during the day (or while driving). In addition, certain prescription drugs cause drowsiness.
Dementia or brain impairment – Mental impairment or dementia makes driving more dangerous and more frustrating. Brain impairment may cause delayed reactions to sudden or confusing situations on the road.
Steps to take if you are concerned about the safety of a senior driver
If you are concerned about an elderly driver, closely monitor his/her driving before deciding whether there is a need to brush up driving skills or give up the driver’s license altogether. Some steps include:
· Watch for changes in driving habits, general behavior, and health.
· Encourage a driving evaluation through Fox Rehabilitation, your local Department of Motor Vehicles, along with refresher driving lessons and the AARP Driver Safety Course.
· Explore ways to reduce driving, such as making purchases on-line or through mail-order catalogs. If possible, arrange for home delivery of groceries, and home visits by clergy, medical and personal care providers, and government service providers.
· If necessary, get support from the older adult’s primary care physician and other family members.
· Research and propose alternative modes of transportation. Maybe the senior can continue to drive some of the time (such as in the daytime), and alternative transportation can fill the need for rides at other times.
The Following are several resources that may be especially valuable regarding driving safety for older adults.
· Fox Rehabilitation – 877-407-3422 (Ask for the Driver Safety Evaluation Program)