If you are concerned that an elderly family member or loved one is losing their ability to drive safely, it’s important for you to determine whether it’s time to take action. While some people are able to drive safely well into their 80s or 90s, others may become dangerous on the road much earlier – especially if they have serious health conditions or problems with memory loss or dementia.
Following are a number of warning signs and risk factors that can help you determine if it’s time to talk to an elderly loved one about giving up driving.
Observations of Others – If family members or friends tell you there may be problems with your loved one’s driving, look into this closely.
Damage to the Car – Check their car for damages such as new dents or scratches that would indicate minor collisions.
Changes in Driving Behavior – Obvious warning signs include missing or ignoring traffic signals or stop signs; confusion between the gas and brake pedals; driving too slowly in traffic; and becoming easily distracted while driving.
Night Driving – Reluctance to drive at night can indicate a person’s anxiety about their own ability to drive safely.
Cognitive Problems – Whether it’s memory loss or something more serious such as dementia, cognitive problems are a major sign that it’s time for a person to stop driving.
Vision or Hearing Impairment – Obviously, not being able to see or hear well greatly increases the danger of auto accidents.
If you notice any of these problems with a loved one, it’s probably time to have a discussion about whether they should stop driving. This can be a very difficult situation, as many seniors view losing their ability to drive as a loss of independence and a blow to their ego that is hard to accept. However, it’s something that needs to be addressed if your loved one has become a danger to themselves and others.