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Driving: When Aging Illness Makes it Difficult

By Sandra Ray, Staff Writer

(Page 2 of 3)  

There are several questions caregivers can ask when looking at whether or not it’s time to limit or stop driving:

1. When exiting a highway or interstate, does the driver seem confused?

2.  Does the driver seem nervous or agitated when driving?

3. Does he/she fail to stop at red lights or stop signs?

4. Is there confusion over the gas or the brake pedal?

5. Are there unexplained dents in the paint of the car,  mailbox, garage, or other objects/vehicles at the home?

6. Can he/she read and understand traffic signs?

7. Does the driver stop for no apparent reason?

8. How do other drivers react to the older driver on the road?

9. Are turns, especially left ones, difficult to navigate?

10. Is he/she aware of potentially dangerous situations or activity on the side of the roadway?

While these are not the only areas to consider, they will provide the caregiver with a method to begin evaluating how well the older driver is navigating on the roadway on their own. An objective evaluation is necessary in order to take the steps to keeping loved ones safe while on the road.

Some older drivers start to ask for help or naturally slow down in their driving innately as they become more uncomfortable. For instance, some will stop driving at night if they have difficulty seeing. Others may only drive during early morning hours when they feel like their facilities are sharper. Still others may ask for a co-pilot when they make regular trips to the doctor or grocery store as a way of “checking themselves.” Caregivers should also consider these cues when making an evaluation.

Next Steps:

After the caregiver or family has decided that the driver should limit or stop driving, begin to have honest conversations with them about their ability to drive. Defensiveness about driving ability is common and older drivers often feel as if their independence and livelihood are threatened by handing over the keys.


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