When to Take Away the Car Keys from Aging Parents
Figuring out when it’s time for a loved one to stop driving is one of the tougher challenges a family can face.
Driving means independence, which is valued increasingly as we get older. While you don’t want to make your parents miserable by taking away their keys, you also don’t want to see them get into a serious accident. But how do you know when it’s time to intervene?
Here are some tips for family members:
Know the dangers
Safe drivers need eyesight and reflexes that are up to the demands of driving. Also, drivers often need to make snap decisions. When debris blows onto the road or someone makes an unexpected turn, the difference between a close call and a total disaster is often less than two seconds. Age only makes vision and reaction time worse. According to a study by Consumer Reports, 80-year-old drivers get into just as many accidents as 18-year-old drivers.
Look for warning signs
It’s easy to spot many of the signs that it’s time to quit driving, like when a driver becomes easily distracted, has trouble maintaining the correct lane, has significantly impaired vision, tends to drive too fast or too slow or starts hitting curbs frequently. These warning signs shouldn’t be ignored. If you don’t spend much time in the car with your loved one, the signs you’re looking for might be minor scrapes or dents appearing on the car or in the garage.
Be thoughtful of the life change
Giving up driving can lead to emotional, physical, and practical concerns about how to get around. Seniors are already at-risk for isolation and depression, and making it more difficult to get around can only worsen outcomes. Nobody wants to feel like they’re imposing on their family or friends, especially not every time they want to leave the house. Fortunately, services like Lyft and Uber can help provide safe transportation on demand.
Rely on judgment, not the law
Most states don’t require older drivers to undergo additional testing, and legal authorities are generally powerless to strip someone of their right to drive until they’ve actually done harm. That means families have to work out these issues for themselves. Telling someone it’s time to hang up their keys is a tough topic to broach, but ignoring the signs it’s time to quit can be a deadly mistake.
Helping you through the process
If your parent or loved one needs more help than you can provide, contact Oasis Senior Advisors for assistance. We offer resources for seniors and their families, as well as support and guidance every step of the way, so you can feel confident in your senior housing selection.