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To Drive or Not to Drive, That is The Question!!!!

“My dad drove me to the store the other day and his driving really scared me.  What can I do?”

Driving is one of the most significant areas of independence and the threat of losing this independence is very scary to the individual and makes this subject difficult to address for the caregiver. 

As a concerned caregiver one of the first things to do is assess your loved one’s skills by doing the following:

  • Review the older person’s recent driving history.  Have there been a lot of minor accidents, are they running into the garage door, have there been tickets for moving violations, etc…

  • As the caregiver, have you ridden with your older loved one recently and were you comfortable with their driving?  Often family members will say, “Oh, dad’s not allowed to drive the grandkids any more” or “ Nobody will ride with mom because it’s too scary”

  • Review your loved ones medications for possible driving related side effects (i.e. may cause sleepiness or dizziness). If possible, ask to be present when the older adult is has a doctor’s visit. Ask the doctor about any possible medical conditions that might affect driving like dementia, a stroke, or depression, as well as to report any concerning driving incidents to the physician that might otherwise not come to light.

  • Have your older loved one’s driving skills assessed by professionals.  There are several driving assessment programs in the area.  They are usually performed by an occupational therapist.

If you feel that your older loved one’s driving skills have declined and that it is no longer safe for them to drive you may be able to help persuade the older driver to limit or reduce their driving by:

  • Enlisting the help of an authority figure: Many older adults may respond to recommendations by healthcare professionals, law enforcement officials, and Department’s of Motor Vehicles when considering whether to limit driving due to impairment.

  • Family caregivers can present various transportation options to the older adult while showing the costs and benefits of each. This may convince them to choose lower-cost alternatives such as car pooling, public transportation, or taxi service. Be sure to include the cost of insurance, gas, and repairs when calculating the cost of owning a car.

  • Have some solutions for your older loved one’s transportation needs. Researching various transportation options, exploring them, and gradually substitute them for private driving may more helpful than just suggesting that the person should no longer drive.

  • Families can encourage the older driver to voluntarily take a refresher course offered by AARP, 55 alive or their insurance company, which may help improve current driving skills.

A geriatric Care Manager can assist you by researching alternative transportation in your older loved one’s community and/or get you connected to driving assessment programs.  If you are interested in getting more information on older adult drivers please feel free to contact
St. Andrew’s Senior solutions at 314-726-5766.