Older Adult Driver – When Is It No Longer Safe?
Driving is a symbol of freedom and independence. Many people find it hard to give up driving, even when they know they can no longer do it safely. On the other hand, sometimes a senior knows in their heart they should stop driving, but continues to drive because they are unaware of other, more suitable options. If you have concerns about an older adult driver, consider these steps.
What To Do When You Know Your Loved One Shouldn’t Drive Anymore
When safe driving is beyond their own ability, you owe it to your loved one, yourself, and everyone else on the highway to help them change over to other methods of transportation. It’s also important to make sure your loved one does not remain isolated due to their inability to safely drive.
Examine Senior Transportation Options For An Older Adult Driver
Senior transportation options may vary depending on where your loved one lives, the locations which he or she needs to travel, and your loved one’s physical condition. Standard public transportation like city buses, taxi cabs (and now Uber) will work if vision is the problem. These services, however, often don’t provide any physical assistance for someone who has trouble walking or requires a wheelchair.
There are, though, special bus services available for older adult drivers or physically disabled. These services understand that their users may move slower than younger adults. Some provide physical assistance and wheelchair access. A few have rigid schedules which may or may not meet your loved one’s needs. Others will make custom stops if you schedule them ahead of time. For more information on bus services, you can inquire at your local senior center or visit these websites:
Another option is to enlist the help of family and friends, coordinating different people’s schedules with the times and places your older adult driver needs transportation. They may resist this idea because they don’t want to inconvenience people. You can soften this objection by letting them know it’s an opportunity to spend quality time with the people they love.
Home care providers can provide the most customized service. Here are two important ways a caregiver can assist older adult drivers with senior transportation services that are always available on a regular, occasional, or even on an as-needed basis:
- Personally driving for your loved one (either in the caregiver’s vehicle or in their own vehicle) and providing any physical assistance required with getting into and out of the house, vehicle, wheelchair and more.
- Traveling with your loved one on standard or senior public transportation to provide personal assistance and physical support.
Guiding Your Loved One To Accept Other Transportation Options
How much time you spend convincing your loved one to give up driving will depend on their ability to do so safely. If they are a borderline safe driver, you can start by talking about other people in their peer group that have given up driving. Perhaps you can relate a story about people in their peer group who have experienced car accidents and how you know your loved one would never want to be responsible for hurting anyone with their car. If your loved one insists they are still a safe driver, you might show that you disagree by refusing to ride with them or refusing to allow grandchildren to ride with them.
Help your senior loved one get used to other options. Make sure someone is always present to give them a ride whenever they need it. Occasionally suggest that they accompany you on a bus ride to run some errands or to enjoy a special outing. As your loved one begins to experience other transportation methods, their need to drive will start to recede in their mind. They will experience the sense of freedom and independence, previously represented by driving their own car.
Should an older adult driver have a sudden deterioration in physical ability take away the car temptation while they convalesce. That removes their ability to drive as they adjust to the new reality that they really are no longer up to the task.
As much as possible, it’s helpful to focus on positive options rather than on what is being lost. You can also gently emphasize the very real benefits of being a passenger. These benefits include:
- Having someone with them in case they have a medical emergency.
- Putting all their friends’ and relatives’ minds at ease by having assistance rather than taking unnecessarily dangerous chances.
- Having time to see and look at what they are passing by (such as new stores or just the wide open countryside).
- More social interactions by always having someone in the vehicle to talk with.
- Increased savings by eliminating the need to buy and maintain a car, as well as preventing much higher insurance rates should they have an accident– even if it is only a minor one.
- Making new friends if they are riding with non-family members.
The important thing is to make sure an older adult driver knows it’s possible to still be happy. They can meet all of their obligations and still stay fully engaged in the outside world without actually having to do their own driving.
You’re always welcome to contact us for a free consultation regarding a full range of senior transportation service options. “Hanging up the car keys” can be a difficult decision to reach, but it’s a critically important decision. It’s a decision that can lead to a clear conscience, for all involved, a little further down the road.