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Seniors and Driving: Is it Time to Have the Talk?

Posted by ComForCare on October 31, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Elderly-DrivingStates have varying driving rules for older adults, a topic that has caught headlines as of late. With more older drivers on the road than ever before, a clear set of rules would be nice – but that’s definitely not the case. Thirty states plus Washington D.C. have some sort of requirement for driver’s licenses for older adults, ranging from an uptick in vision testing to making seniors renew their licenses more frequently. But, each state boasts a different set of rules, making it confusing and disorganized. Maryland, for example, starts eye exams at 40, while shorter license renewals begin anywhere from age 59 in Georgia to 85 in Texas.

Inconsistent Driving Laws for Older Adults

Some experts say the reason for the inconsistency is because age doesn’t kill people, health issues do. You can be 40 and considered an unfit driver, while a healthy 90 year old could still be passing driving tests with flying colors.  The important thing to remember is that seniors may not always know when they should stop driving, and it’s our responsibility to pay attention. According to reports, about 60 percent of seniors voluntarily cut back on driving as they age, but how do we approach this subject with our aging parents or loved ones who aren’t so quick to hand over their keys?

Tips on How to Talk to Your Aging Loved One About Driving

  • Be sensitive to their feelings. Remember that our parents don’t typically appreciate the role reversal, with their children suddenly making the rules. Put yourself in their shoes and tread carefully. Do not make it confrontational, but rather honest and open. Make it about safety and your concern for them and others.
  • Pay attention to their health. If your older loved one has experienced a loss of eyesight or hearing, limited mobility or has a dementia-related illness, this are conditions that can greatly affect their ability to drive properly and safely.
  • Get a second opinion. If your loved one just won’t listen, encourage them to talk to his or her physician, a close friend or other relative. If you’re concerned and you know that your parent or loved one should not be on the road, consider contacting the Department of Motor Vehicles in your area and ask about revoking a license.
  • Don’t strip them of their independence. If you’ve come to the agreement that your parent will no longer be driving, be sure to introduce other forms of transportation so they can still run errands and get around.  This may be public transportation or you can offer to drive them around once a week.

If you have other advice, please feel free to join the conversation on our Facebook page!

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Topics: Aging

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