Senior Driving- Is it Dangerous?

senior driving

Senior Driving-When should my dad or mom stop driving? Is it still safe to drive? How about 80?

As our parents age and their eye sight worsens, along with them taking multiple medications,
should they still get behind the wheel? The answer is most likely no. They probably shouldn’t
be driving at a certain point. And I don’t think it’s the age as much as the check list below.
Here is a quick check list to get started:
What is their eye sight like?
When was their last eye exam?
Have you spoken to their doctor about their cognitive behavior?
How many medications are they taking?
And do any of them say “ Do not operate machinery?” or “Do not Drive?”

Next – Have a chat with Mom or Dad about driving?

How are they feeling when they drive?

Do they feel safe?
NOW- Get Ready- your parent is going to fight you on this last straw of independence.
(Remember when you were a teenager persuading your parents about using their car? This is
role reversal at it’s finest.)

At one point my dad was on a couple of medications that definitely made him drowsy. The pill
bottle labels plainly said, “do not operate machinery.” I read this and thought Oh boy, I don’t think
he should drive anymore. So what do you do? You need to have a firm but compassionate conversation. What does that mean? Well, while thinking you are there to control your parents life as a caregiver, well, you’re not. We need to allow our parents to make their own decisions as long as they are safe.

My dad was still a clear thinker (or so I thought) It was his body that was sick with cancer. But, if your parent had Dementia or Alzheimer’s, or you suspect they do, get them tested and understand the safety issues that come with this disease.

Now back to talking to Lenny my dad….Of course, he defended himself when I mentioned driving to him. “I’m fine to drive! After all, it ain’t New York, it’s Pennsylvania! Lots of greenery and open
spaces- not like I’m gonna run anybody over or hurt anyone!”

This was my fathers answer as we lived in rural Pennsylvania at the time. My dad was used to
driving in New York City, Long Island and all over the tri-state area so he did a lot of miles in
his day and was a very confident driver. He only got into an accident once when on a job as a
packer (a mover that packs up your home) this was his own business.

He wasn’t hurt and neither was the guy in the van with him, even though the van flipped on it’s
side, but my dad managed to crawl out unscathed. Now that’s another story for another time and this was when he was much younger and healthy.
Now dad was battling cancer and on a lot of medication. The story was certainly different. He needed to have the keys taken from him, but I didn’t get them out of his hands quick enough and so what happens goes like this….

Two elderly individuals come to a four -way stop. “Little old lady” barreled through the stop
sign as if it wasn’t there, plowing right into Dad’s pretty red car.
No one was hurt, no one was hurt. But this ended my dad’s driving. He was devastated and this is when the keys came out of his hands. It was all still very upsetting, even though no one was hurt, he did total his car and went to the hospital.

Keep your own parents safe and know when it’s time to take the keys away.

Stay well.

You got this caregivers, I got you!

Stay loving.