Should Your Senior Loved One Still be Driving? A Guide for Families

Should Your Senior Loved One Still be Driving? A Guide for Families

Having the conversation with your senior loved ones on driving.

April 4, 2024

As our loved ones age, many families face the difficult question of whether or not it’s safe for them to continue driving. For seniors, driving often represents a sense of independence and freedom, but it also can bring concerns about safety, especially as cognitive and physical abilities may decline with age. At Heather Glen Senior Living, we understand the importance of this decision and always aim to provide guidance to families navigating this sensitive issue. Read on as we go through a few ways to assess your loved ones driving ability and tips for having the next conversation with them about it. 

Assessing driving ability

The decision to continue driving should be based on an individual’s overall health, cognitive function and driving skills. Here are some factors you can consider before making your final decision:

  • Physical health: First, evaluate your loved one’s physical health, including their vision, hearing, reflexes and their mobility. Some chronic conditions such as arthritis or Parkinson’s disease can often affect their driving ability. 
  • Cognitive function: Next, assess their memory, attention and decision-making skills, as conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can impair these abilities and increase the risk of accidents. 
  • Medications: Some medications can also cause drowsiness or other side effects that could impact driving skills, so it’s always a good idea to review your loved one’s medications with their healthcare provider and get their professional opinion. 
  • Driving skills: Finally, observe your loved one’s driving skills firsthand. During this time, look for any signs of unsafe driving, such as frequent close calls, getting lost in familiar areas or difficulty with traffic signs. 

Having the conversation

Broaching the subject on whether or not it’s safe for your older loved ones to continue driving can be challenging, but it’s essential for safety. With this in mind, approach the conversation with empathy and respect, acknowledging the importance of driving to their independence while expressing concerns for their safety and the safety of others. Here are a few tips to add into the conversation: 

  • Choose a time when everyone is calm and relaxed before beginning.
  • Use “I” statements to express your concerns to ensure that you’re continuing the conversation without blaming or criticizing them. 
  • Listen actively to their perspective, and always remember to validate their feelings. 
  • Offer alternatives to driving such as ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft or family assistance if possible. 

Navigating the road ahead

Deciding whether or not it’s safe for your older loved one to continue driving is a complex and sensitive issue, and it’s a topic that requires careful consideration of their health, abilities and safety concerns. At Heather Glen Senior Living, we encourage families to have open and honest conversations about stopping driving and explore alternative transportation options to support their loved one’s independence and well-being. By working together, we aim to ensure the safety and quality of life for seniors in our community and others. 

At Heather Glen Senior Living, our entire team is focused on working with you to give your older loved ones the care and attention that they need, with both personal and memory care departments. If you’re interested in learning more about the work we do throughout the Lehigh Valley, give us a call at (610) 841-4478 or fill out our online form today.

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