Signs Your Senior Should Stop Driving

Most family members and home care providers often worry about seniors driving as they age. In fact, it’s typically a dreaded conversation, but one that needs to happen to keep everyone safe. Driving, for seniors, provides a sense of autonomy, independence, and freedom. Yet, while some seniors are happy to give up the keys to their cars, others fight tooth and nail to keep their autonomy. If their independence is taken away, isolation and depression may soon follow.

So, how do you know when a senior should stop driving? There are physical and cognitive changes that may help to make the decision.

Here are five signs your senior should stop driving.

Home Care Hawthorne NJ - Signs Your Senior Should Stop Driving

Home Care Hawthorne NJ – Signs Your Senior Should Stop Driving

Vision Changes

Compromised or decreased vision is one of the most significant factors that impair driving. For example, suppose senior struggles to see at a distance or has limited peripheral vision, then being behind the wheel is dangerous. Hearing loss may also impair driving; this contributes to slower response time and an inability to drive defensively.

Chronic Pain or Weakness

Chronic pain or limited range of motion impairs driving because pain or stiffness makes it difficult to turn their head and look in all directions. In addition, general loss of muscular strength inhibits the senior’s ability to steer and have quick reactions.

Also, leg weakness and pain may prevent a senior from having strong reflexes with brakes and flipping back and forth between the gas and brake pedals.

Cognitive changes

Are they experiencing decreased cognitive function, forgetfulness, or memory loss? A decline in cognitive function is risky in terms of remembering directions and landmarks or if they forget where they are.

As seniors age, slower reaction time becomes more prevalent; therefore, a quick response time is critical while driving and merging cars are slowing or stopping. An inability to multi-task puts seniors at risk when they can’t keep track of signs, stop lights, other cars, and pedestrians all at once.

Have they had near misses in their car?

How do you determine if they have had a near-missed accident in their car? First, ask them; they may be honest with you. Or they may tell you but minimize it. You can also check their car often for unexplained scratches, dings, or dents.

A home care provider can also offer insight if the senior struggles with vision or hearing in other areas of their life.

Are they increasingly getting more frustrated and angry?

Increased frustration and anger are additional signs of cognitive decline. For example, the senior may exhibit a short temper or road rage while driving, or others, like their home care provider, may express concern.

Significant changes in driving habits are definite red flags. Are they disregarding safety and laws while driving? For example, have they stopped wearing their seatbelt, do they change lanes without looking over their shoulders, or pay attention to blind spots? Are they suddenly rolling through stop signs without stopping?

It’s crucial to pay attention to these signs as they signify that it’s time to hang up the keys and encourage seniors to consider other forms of transportation. In fact, a great option is to have a home care provider who can drive the parent to run their errands.

If you or a senior family member are considering hiring Home Care Services in Hawthorne NJ, please contact the caring staff at Caring Solutions Home Care LLC. In-home senior care servicing Bergen & Passaic Counties. Call today at (973) 427-3553.

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Pamela DelColle, RN, CCRN