Driving is about ability not age. Although there is no specific age at which a person must stop driving, aging is often associate with the loss of certain abilities and tied to changing health factors. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that fatal crash rates tend to increase for individuals in their late 70s or early 80s.
The important thing is not to jump to conclusions, but to honestly assess your loved one’s driving ability. As a leading provider of senior home care in Oklahoma, we always encourage families of older adults to keep an eye out for potentially hazardous situations and suggestive warning signs. By doing so, families can minimize risk, monitor driving skills over time, and help their loved ones continue to drive independently for as long as it is safe to do so.
The same situations that threaten anyone’s driving ability are doubly hazardous for the elderly. Older adults must not drive if they are behind on sleep, have low blood sugar, or have had any alcohol to drink. Some elderly adults get increasingly tired as the day wears on, making driving more dangerous as the light fades.
One of the best ways to stay on top of potential dangers is by noting health conditions and medications that could impact driving skills. Watch out for any condition, frailty, drug, or physical change that causes:
- Poor concentration
- Impaired vision or hearing
- Loss of arm strength
- Neck pain or stiffness
- Leg pain
Watch out for multiple instances of your loved one getting lost in familiar territory or having delayed reactions to traffic events. Often, there will be several ‘close calls’ or cases of other drivers reacting angrily to your loved one’s behavior in traffic, such as driving too slow or failing to notice approaching vehicles. If a your loved one drives alone, look for telltale dings or dents on the vehicle, or accumulating tickets for driving offenses.
The transition from driver to passenger can be difficult for seniors to cope with. You can make the process easier by offering alternatives. Check with your local church or other senior volunteer organizations, offer to drive them to the grocery store, or consider the help of a part-time caregiver in Oklahoma City who can provide transportation and accompaniment. All of these options allow the senior to maintain their independence and regular routines.
Get your loved one the help they need to remain safe and independent. Call Home Care Assistance of Oklahoma at 405-285-4191. Our Care Managers are available to answer questions 24/7.