How to Know When a Senior Should Give Up Driving

How to Know When a Senior Should Give Up Driving

Do you worry about your senior relative’s driving skills? As people age, their hearing, vision, and reflexes might deteriorate. If the senior is dealing with dementia, Alzheimer's, or other cognitive conditions, the risk of motor accidents is higher.

If you think senior driving accidents are not a major source of concern, you might want to think again: according to theCDC, in 2020, around 7,500 older adults were killed in traffic accidents, with over 100,000 treated in emergency departments for injuries. Plus, data also suggests that drivers aged 70+ tend to have higher crash death rates per 1,000 crashes than middle-aged drivers (aged 35-54). 

So, when should an older loved one give up driving? Is there a set age? Read on for more information on what factors play a part in determining when a senior should give up driving.

The Importance of Driving for Seniors

Driving is an essential activity. Your senior relative probably relies on driving to go to banks, the post office, the drugstore, and more. As they age, they become increasingly dependent on it to complete a slew of everyday tasks, from getting groceries and engaging in community activities to meeting friends and visiting family. The thought of giving up driving entirely can make your senior relative or friend feel dependent, insecure, and sad. 

According toresearch, the idea of giving up driving can conjure feelings of angst and helplessness. No one wants to accept that they are facing cognitive, visual, mobility, hearing, or any other issues. Plus, carrying groceries while walking can become a much more challenging task for seniors. They will also have to depend on friends, family, or public transportation to get around. To make matters worse, giving up driving can cause other mental and physical problems because of the lack of acceptance. 

Most people tend to ignore the level of emotional attachment seniors have with a car. It is not something that is of purely functional and utilitarian value. For many, it is also a status symbol and a matter of pride. Hence, it is essential to tackle the issue with great care. A car also empowers seniors to be helpful to others by allowing them to volunteer and helps others. This boosts their identity and self-confidence. Hence, losing the ability to drive can take an emotional toll on seniors.

Top Factors to Consider

Firstly, it’s important to note that not all seniors should stop driving. A person's age is not an indicator of how well they drive. However, there are a few tell-tale factors and signs that can affect your driving, irrespective of your age, as per theNational Institute of Aging:

Questions to Determine Whether or Not Seniors Should Still Be Driving

In addition to the factors mentioned above, the National Institute of Aging lists a helpful set of questions you can ask yourself to understand whether you should give up driving or not. The following questions can help you identify if it’s time for your senior loved one to consider giving up driving:

If the answer to all or most of these questions is 'yes,' it might be a good idea to talk to your doctor to understand the next steps.

Now that you understand some of the signs and indicators let's talk about how seniors can give up driving. 

Top Strategies to Help Seniors Give Up Driving Easily

There is no set age when everyone should stop diving. Each person is different. Thus, it’s vital to pay close attention to identify signs that indicate it’s time for your senior loved one to give up driving. If the issues are minor, you can take a look at thestrategiesmentioned by the NIA and speak to the doctor about them. However, if your senior relative or friend is facing significant problems, giving driving might be a good idea. Here are some strategies that can help seniors phase out driving so that it does not come as a rude shock:

You could also look into getting your elderly loved one enrolled in a senior living community for added support and care. Being a part of a senior community poses multiple advantages: your loved one won't have to go for grocery runs as they'll have their meals planned out, and they can leverage the transportation services of the healthcare facility to visit family or go for other social outings instead of constantly asking other neighbors, friends, or family for a lift (which can feel like an imposition). Your loved one will also meet people who have faced similar circumstances and can bond with them, and they will get their lost sense of independence, control, freedom, and status back with a community of like-minded people.

Driving is a prime indicator of self-serving and independence for people. It also helps bring about feelings of normalcy and helps the seniors feel like they are an integral part of society. This is why most people, particularly seniors, hesitate to give it up. However, if your loved one is struggling with staying on the road, it might be time to give up driving. Remember, it's always wise to place health before everything else, including their sense of independence. 

Looking for a senior care center that meets your individual needs while placing your comfort at the forefront and providing quality care? Consider visiting the team at  Brookfield Senior Living. We offer a wide range of services--from rehabilitation to long-term care.Contact us today to learn more.