If you are concerned about an elder's ability to drive safely, it is wise to address the problem immediately. It could make the difference between life and death. Although it may be tempting to delay the matter, an automobile accident resulting in injury or death could weigh on your conscience for years. It is difficult to inform an elderly individual that he or she is no longer capable of doing something as basic as driving. For the elderly, it's a reminder that assistance with daily living needs is inevitable.
As an individual age, basic cognitive skills can diminish due to changes in vision, hearing, mental condition, or physical abilities. There are also many signs that can alert you as to if an elderly person may have trouble driving. Some of the signs are multiple car accidents within a short period of time, slow reflexes, a decrease in night vision, and the inability to drive with the flow of traffic.
Include a Medical Professional
If you believe that an elderly person in your care can no longer drive safely and has the potential of putting other lives in danger, you must handle the matter promptly. Speaking to the elder's doctor about your concerns is one of the first steps to take. By having a medical professional instruct the elder that it is no longer safe to drive will make your job much easier.
From the onset, you can emphasize that it's the doctor's decision. This prevents you from appearing as the bad guy. However, it may take some time for the elder to accept it. When it comes from a doctor, it’s easier to accept it. In addition, the doctor can complete test to confirm that it is no longer in the best interest of the elder to drive. Your job will simply be to support and reinforce the doctor's decision.
If an elder decides to give up driving, alternative methods of transportation should be discussed. Alternative methods of transportation may include other family members, community-funded transportation, bus, or train. Also, inform family members, neighbors, and friends that the elder can no longer drive. Although it may seem as though you're violating the elder's privacy, it is for the elder's benefit. Family members and friends may also help in reinforcing the doctor's orders and your wishes.
There is the possibility that the aging family member may not want to give up driving. What do you do then? It is important to understand that the decision was made for the benefit of the aging family member and the safety of other motorists. You may have to remove the car keys, contact other family members, sell the car, or notify DMV. Whichever strong action you decide to take, don't feel guilty. You are making a decision that could ultimately save lives.
Seeking the assistance of a medical professional, offering alternatives methods of transportation, and notifying family and friends are some of the best ways to prevent an aging family member from driving. It may be the best solution for preventing an automobile accident. If resistance is met by the aging family member, a stronger course of action may be necessary to ensure the aging family member is safe.