How Can I Tell If It’s Time for My Uncle to Give up Driving?

How Can I Tell If It’s Time for My Uncle to Give up Driving?

Dear Donna,

My uncle recently turned 86 years old. He’s in pretty good shape for his age, but I’m concerned that he is getting too old to drive.

How can I tell if it’s time for my uncle to give up driving?


Melissa from Holland, MI


How to Tell When It’s Time to Stop Driving


Dear Melissa,

Knowing when it’s time to give up driving can be hard. There is no set age when a person is supposed to stop driving. Some adults drive well into their nineties without any problems while others are forced to give up their keys sooner.

While age alone doesn’t determine a person’s ability to drive, there are age-related changes that can affect a person’s ability to drive safely. This includes physical changes like reduced mobility and vision loss. Cognitive changes like a slower reaction time can also affect driving.

Here are a few signs to help you determine if it’s unsafe for a senior loved one to drive.


Signs It May Be Time for Seniors to Give up Driving


  1. Their driving performance

One of the easiest ways to determine if a loved one is safe on the road is to evaluate their driving performance. Next time you go out, ask them to drive.

Here are a few signs of unsafe driving:

  • Trouble staying in their lane
  • Long pauses at stop signs and red lights
  • Driving above or below the speed limit
  • Riding the brake
  • Difficulty parking
  • Riding up the curb

If you notice any of these red flags, it may be a good idea to bring it to their attention.

  1. Their state of mind

Your loved one’s state of mind while driving can say a lot about their driving ability. Here are a few emotions that can affect their ability to drive safely:

  • Nervousness: Many older adults become nervous on the road; this can affect their driving.
  • Confusion: Being confused can indicate they are unsure of what to do during certain situations.
  • Irritation: Does your loved one get irritated easily while driving? Unnecessary road rage can be their way of coping with stress and frustration while driving.

If your loved one demonstrates any of these emotions, it may be a good idea to talk to them about how they feel about driving. They could be lacking confidence in their own driving ability.

  1. Health conditions that could affect their driving

Many health conditions can affect a person’s ability to drive. Here are a few conditions that are common among seniors:

  • Alzheimer’s disease: Alzheimer’s disease causes cognitive difficulties that can make driving unsafe. Seniors can forget where they are going, make poor decisions, and get lost.
  • Arthritis: Arthritis causes stiffness in the joints, which can make driving painful. This can make turning the wheel and other movements necessary to drive incredibly difficult. They can even have trouble getting in and out of the car.
  • Glaucoma: Glaucoma makes it difficult to see out of central vision. Cyclists, pedestrians, and even other cars can be missed.
  • Age-related macular degeneration: Another condition that affects vision is macular degeneration. This can make it difficult to see signs, traffic signals, and pedestrians.

If your loved one has any of these conditions, it may be time to talk to your loved one about hanging up their keys.

I hope this helps you determine if it’s time for your senior loved one to stop driving!



Heritage Senior Communities Promote Senior Safety

Heritage Senior Communities encourage senior safety in our assisted living communities throughout Michigan. Contact us today to learn more about our senior living options or to schedule a private tour at one of our locations, such as Appledorn Assisted Living community in Holland.

7 Tips for Talking to Young Children about Alzheimer’s Disease

7 Tips for Talking to Young Children about Alzheimer’s Disease

Understanding Alzheimer’s disease is challenging for people of all ages. For children, the disease can be downright confusing and difficult to accept.

In efforts to protect their children, parents often avoid talking about a grandparent’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. This usually backfires and causes their children more harm in the long run.

Here are a few things that can happen when parents don’t open up to their children about their grandparent’s illness:

  • Children mistakenly think they did something wrong.
  • They blame themselves for their grandparent’s behavior.
  • They sense something is wrong, but their concerns are never validated.
  • They are embarrassed about their grandparent’s behavior.

Here are a few tips for talking to young children about Alzheimer’s disease.


7 Tips for Talking with Young Children about a Grandparent’s Alzheimer’s


  1. Do your research.

Before you talk to your children, take the time to learn about the disease. This will prepare you to explain the disease to your kids and answer their questions.

Being able to discuss the situation will help reassure your children that you have everything under control.

  1. Make it simple.

Explain to your children what is going on with their grandparents in the simplest words. This will help ensure they understand.

Instead of telling them about the plaques and tangles, simplify your explanation by telling them their grandparent has a condition that makes it hard to remember things.

  1. Prepare them for changes.

Give examples of how their grandparents might change or point out some ways they have already changed.

Try to explain what is happening as their grandparent’s symptoms change at each stage of the disease. For example, if they are in the first stage of the disease, you may say something like, “You may have noticed grandma forgets things more often. Her disease is going to make her forgetful.”

As the disease progresses, you may find yourself saying something like, “You may have noticed grandpa gets frustrated more easily. It has nothing to do with you; his illness makes him grumpy sometimes.”

  1. Validate their feelings.

It’s normal for children to become sad or angry that their grandparents are sick. It can be even more devastating when their grandparents forget who they are. Let children know that these feelings are normal, and that you, too, are upset about the disease.

  1. Assure them that it’s not their fault.

When kids don’t understand the illness, they may blame themselves. Reassure them that they did not cause their grandparent’s Alzheimer’s disease. Let them know there isn’t anything they could have done to prevent it.

  1. Let them know it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

Children often become embarrassed about their grandparent’s behavior. Let them know that the disease is making their grandparent act that way; it’s not their true personality.

  1. Encourage them to ask questions.

During the conversation, give your children the opportunity to ask questions about Alzheimer’s disease. Answer as many as it takes for them to understand.

Also, encourage them to ask questions about their grandparent’s behavior. This will help them become more comfortable with the topic.


Difficult Conversations Are Often the Most Important

Like most important conversations, talking to children about their grandparent’s Alzheimer’s disease is important. The closer their relationship is with their grandparent, the more the diagnosis is going to affect them. Opening up to your children about the disease can allow them to deal with their grandparent’s illness in a healthier way.


Memory Care at Heritage Senior Communities

At Heritage Senior Communities, we know how difficult it is to care for a loved one while caring for young children of your own. Many of our communities have dedicated memory programs for adults with dementia, including Alzheimer’s’ disease. Contact us to learn more about our specialized dementia care.