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Should a Senior Continue Driving?

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It’s a question everyone must ask of their elderly parents: when is it time to stop driving? Unfortunately, few seniors want to give up the freedom of being able to go wherever they want when they want, even if they increasingly are a risk to themselves and others. With the population aging, this is an issue that will raise more frequently. According to AAA, by 2030 about 90% of the 70  million Americans over the age of 65 will have driver’s licenses, and most of them will want to drive.

If you have an elderly parent or spouse, you need to be aware of the risks involved when they choose to get behind the wheel of a vehicle. You should also prepare yourself to discuss alternatives to driving.

Look for Warning Signs

Not every driver in her 70s or 80s is a risk. In fact, problems with driving are related more to poor health than with age. Nevertheless, concerned family members should look for the following warning signs that they need to have a talk with their loved one:

  • Your loved one’s car has many unexplained scratches or dents. They might have been in minor fender benders but been too embarrassed to tell you.
  • Your loved one gets into several “near misses.”
  • Your loved one has problems moving their feet or confuses the two pedals in a car.
  • Your loved one gets lost frequently, especially when travelling what were once familiar routes.
  • Your loved one has trouble concentrating and is easily distracted.

If you notice any of these signs, it might be time to have a talk about taking away the car keys. An accident could be on the horizon, and you don’t want to wait until tragedy strikes to discuss your loved one’s options.

Check Medications

Your loved one might be in okay health but taking medication to manage certain conditions. Unfortunately, prescription drugs can lead to drowsy driving and slowed reflexes, so you should carefully go through the medications Mom or Dad is taking. Look at the listed side effects or cautions.

Also research whether drugs in combination will cause problems. Sometimes, drugs taken individually might not impair a driver but when taken in combination they have a negative effect. You can talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you have questions.

Other Modes of Transportation

Losing the ability to drive does not mean that your loved one will be housebound. Instead, they can continue to go out and maintain their independence by using alternate means of transportation:

  • Public transportation such as the bus.
  • Walking short distances.
  • Using Lyft or Uber to get around.

Using public transportation can often be cheaper than trying to maintain a car, especially if your loved one doesn’t drive much to begin with. Discuss saving money as a benefit of giving up a vehicle.

Elder Law Planning in The Villages

Growing older raises thorny lifestyle issues, along with complicated legal ones. If you have a legal issue you need help with, Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group is here to help. Our Florida guardianship attorneys have helped hundreds of clients with estate planning, guardianship, and other issues. Contact us today.

You can schedule a free consultation by calling 800-743-9732.

Resource:

usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/01/20/when-should-elderly-people-stop-driving/4659103/

https://www.millhorn.com/faq-about-guardianship-in-florida/

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