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When Should a Senior Citizen Stop Driving?

Rob Erney February 03, 2016

Independence is a major issue for senior citizens, but as we get older, everyday tasks become more challenging. Driving is one example so closely tied to personal liberty that it’s hard to give up or even address. There are, however, a few red flags that should encourage a conversation about this important and sensitive issue.

 

Potential Problems

Keep in mind that everyone is unique, and there’s no universal age limit for any skill or capability. Even health issues that may make driving difficult – such as memory loss or trouble with motor skills – vary from person to person. If you’re reading this, though, you may already suspect this is an issue for yourself or a loved one. Consider these potential consequences before you (or someone you care about) gets behind the wheel:

 

  • Accidents. Anyone with limited mobility or low vision must take extra precaution while driving – regardless of age. Missing a stop sign or reacting too slowly to a red light can cause serious harm. Even simply getting lost or missing a turn can be disastrous. 

 

  • Tickets. Even if these issues don’t lead to an accident, a person can find him or herself in trouble. Speeding, unsafe driving (i.e. swerving or driving too fast or slow), and failing to follow any of the many rules of the road can lead to legal repercussions.

 

With these risks in mind, it may be time to address the issue and find a reasonable alternative to driving. This can be handled tastefully and respectfully if you’re prepared.

 

Conversations and Solutions

This is a pervasive topic everyone will eventually have to address. Here are a few suggestions for starting the conversation:

 

  • Consider personal health needs. In light of hearing or vision problems and medication demands, driving may actually be inconvenient or frustrating. Start the conversation positively, and keep the benefits in mind. Be prepared with actionable suggestions, such as carpooling, walking, or using public transportation.

 

  • Consider a compromise. These conversations may be easier to have if driving hasn’t become a problem yet. You can simply inquire if an individual is comfortable or would like help. For example, driving defensively or offering to modify the vehicle to help the person may be the best solution. Consider how you’d want to be treated in this situation, and demonstrate a willingness to help.

 

Whichever route you choose, plan ahead. If you need some help getting started, the AARP developed an online seminar specifically addressing this issue. This can be a fantastic place to start, but reach out in your local community for help, as well.

 

Seek Help and Advice

The AARP has state and regional offices you can contact for more information. Resources and online communities supported by organizations like AAA or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can also help you plan ahead or talk to your friends and family members.

 

Lastly, Columbus locals can reach out to Robert D. Erney & Associates in the event of any driving accidents or similar issues. For more information, contact us today.