As trusted Bay Area in-home caregivers serving the San Francisco, Menlo Park, and surrounding areas, we know there comes a point in nearly anyone’s life when driving simply isn’t safe any longer. If you have an elderly parent and are concerned about his or her ability to safely operate a vehicle, you aren’t alone. No senior wants to let go of one of the biggest forms of independence, but sometimes it’s the only solution to ensure the safety of your aging loved one as well as others on the road. What factors should you consider before having the discussion about driving?
Medications. Certain prescription and OTC medications can impact anyone’s ability to operate a car safely, especially seniors. If your aging parent takes any medicines that include a safety warning regarding driving, make sure you know when the medication is taken, the number of dosages per day, etc. Seniors often forget if they’ve already taken their medicine, and those with warnings about operating machinery or vehicles can put them at an increased risk. Keep an eye out.
Your loved one’s health. From arthritis to vision problems, dementia, and other health issues, a senior’s ability to drive safely often diminishes with age. Those with dementia can easily get lost in an area they’re very familiar with, while arthritis can make navigating difficult – whether parking, backing up, or switching lanes. Poor eyesight naturally is a concern, as being able to see clearly is essential when driving. You may want to attend the next doctor’s appointment, or even schedule one for your elderly parent yourself, if you’re concerned about health issues that could impact driving.
What is your loved one’s recent driving history? Are there dents, scratches, or dings that make you question whether your parent may have had a minor accident or near miss? When you notice indications of a possible mishap, start paying very close attention to the condition of your mom or dad’s vehicle so you can determine whether their driving abilities may be declining.
Take a ride with your parent. There’s no better way to know if your aging parent is capable of driving safely than to ride along on an errand, while going to dinner, etc. Pay close attention to whether he/she signals properly when making a turn, drives at a normal speed that’s neither too fast or too slow, is able to park easily, pays attention to yield or stop signs and red or green lights at intersections, or seems to become irritated or have a delayed response in circumstances that are not anticipated. You can gain a lot of insight by simply being in the car when your parent is driving.
Driving is a privilege no one wants to lose, regardless of his or her age. However, there may come a time when your aging parent can no longer get behind the wheel to protect his or her safety, and the safety of other motorists. Hopefully these tips will help you determine whether it’s time to have the discussion about driving.
At Care Indeed our Bay Area elder care agency caters to all of the needs of seniors in the Menlo Park and surrounding areas. Whether for transportation; respite care; daily assistance with meals, medication, and light housekeeping; or other needs, trust our caregivers to provide an unmatched level of care.