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
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.