In every human’s life there are milestones to cross. Graduating from school, marrying, having children; these are all important occasions to be celebrated. Learning to drive and getting your license is also considered such a milestone for most, as it represents the transition into adulthood and provides a sense of freedom that comes with independence.
Being forced into giving such a privilege up because of old age, therefore, is not an easy thing to digest for anyone. The kind of mobility that a car offers is often taken for granted, and without it the lifestyle that someone will have grown used to would be no longer sustainable. And yet, there comes a point in everyone’s life when it is simply no longer safe to sit behind the wheel. Limited physical capabilities, poor reflexes, and even slightly delayed comprehension don’t merely endanger the driver and their passengers but also everyone else on the street, including pedestrians. For this reason it is imperative to realize when it is time to stop driving and look for alternative solutions.
How do you know when your elderly loved one should no longer drive? It is difficult to pinpoint an exact time for such a decision: everyone ages differently, and while an 80-year-old man can be spry as a fox, in other cases a senior barely over 60 is in no state to drive anymore. Injuries, mental conditions, and illness could hit at any time, so assessment must happen on an individual basis.
Something as seemingly innocuous as a bit of fatigue could have far-reaching consequences. Sitting in a rigid position, steering the wheel, and switching gears all the time can be unexpectedly taxing, and the more exhausted the body gets, the slower it is able to react. If a senior has to stop frequently during even an hour-long drive and becomes shaky and sweaty the longer they stay behind the wheel, then it is a good indicator that their condition is not ideal for driving. Also, seniors who frequently become dizzy or have problems with their vision often feel endangered and become stressed or fearful, making the problem worse. While all these factors do not necessarily warrant giving up the car altogether, they certainly call for action and some sort of compromise at the very least.
Some more obvious factors that impact driving capabilities regardless of their severity include hearing difficulties, injuries, or a diagnosed medical condition – especially those with symptoms of dementia. Under no circumstances should a person suffering symptoms of these ailments drive a car.
Bringing Up the Issue and Compromising
Tackling the challenge of talking a loved one out of driving is no easy feat, especially since it usually means highlighting issues that may make the elderly feel old and therefore inferior. For this reason, family must be very careful when bringing up the issue and must approach the subject with the utmost delicacy.
Unless the senior’s condition warrants giving up driving altogether, offer additional safety measures first. A medical alert button with built-in GPS could be a decent solution but, better yet, you could consider getting an alert system specifically designed for cars like Bay Alarm Medical‘s in-car medical alert device, which will provide the driver with assistance automatically if it senses a crash. It can also be used if the elderly feels ill, can’t get out of the car, or if they are simply stranded on the roadside. A device like this can help everyone rest easier, including the senior driver.
If the elderly truly should not be allowed behind the wheel, then do not simply tell them so. Offer instead to drive them around yourself if it’s feasible to do so, or bring up the benefits of using Uber, which might not be as affordable as public transport but is still a pretty cheap option. Do not expect seniors to organize everything themselves, however, so while Uber could work as an alternative, the elderly are not always tech-savvy enough to call for a ride without help.
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