In the United States, the ability to drive a car means access to limitless freedom, independence, and adventure. The moment a teenager acquires a driver's license, they take a leap into a larger, more dangerous world.
Most adults will continue driving well into their senior years. Eventually, physical ability, mental health, or other age-related concerns may endanger an elderly driver and others on the road. There may come a time where it is time to discuss this issue with your parents, and potentially take the keys away. It's important that this discussion is had in the right manner, with the appropriate actions taken.
If you're a caregiver for your elderly parents, there are certain signs that highlight it is time to restrict driving or prevent your parents from getting behind the wheel altogether. Safety is a primary concern, regardless of who is behind the wheel, and impairments that come with age may be a danger to drivers on the road. The Insurance Institute for highway Safety found that drivers age 70 and older have higher crash rates per mile than middle aged drivers, and are more likely to be involved in angle, overtaking, merging, and intersection crashes. Multiple-vehicle fatal crashes account for 37 percent of crashes for drivers 80 years or older – significantly higher than ages 16-59 (19%).
Having your parent give up their keys and stop driving is going to take some convincing – so it is important that discussion is had at the right time, and the right steps are taken.
Ideally, the process of ending your parent’s days behind the wheel is a gradual transition period, in which they are weaned off of driving, and transition towards other means of transportation.
Start by taking your parent to their doctor’s appointments – not only as a driver, but also to understand your parent’s health concerns in depth, so you can assess how soon they need to stop driving. This allows you to determine how lengthy this transition period can be, or how immediately they need to be off the road for other drivers’ safety.
Simply driving your parents to the doctor initiates the process of weaning them off of driving themselves. If available, you should also begin to volunteer to drive them to various other errands.
In today’s world of transportation, there are a variety of alternatives to owning and driving your own car. Between public transportation, ride sharing services, and friends or family, your parent can still get around town without the need to drive themselves. Chances are, driving is strenuous and tiring for your elderly parent, and if they’re given a number of alternatives they are likely to opt out of driving.
During this period of transition, it is important your parent is safe when they are on the road on their own. There are a number of safety devices that ensure your parent’s ability to communicate with emergency services in the event of an accident. Help Now Alarm Company produces mobile emergency devices for this very purpose – to give you peace of mind while allowing your parent to maintain their independence. The 911 Help Now™ Emergency Alert Pendant, although portable, can be used in a vehicle in case of an accident or emergency. This device contacts emergency services at the push of a button, so your parent can get help with ease. For GPS location services, consider the 911 Help Now Location Plus.
In conclusion, there will come a time when your parent will need to give up their keys for good. As their caregiver, it is important how you initiate this process, taking it one step at a time, providing alternatives, and provide support whether you’re present or not.