Is It Time To Take The Keys Away?
You visit your mother and notice a long scratch along the side of the car, which she brushes off. Or your dad drives you to lunch, and you notice he blew right past a stop sign on the way. As our parents age, decreasing vision, reaction time and executive function can put them and everyone else in danger on the road.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that over 700 older adult drivers are injured and more than 20 are killed in auto accidents in the U.S. each day. And since senior Americans are a big proportion of the population, the problem is only getting more serious.
Signs that your mom or dad might need to stop driving:
· Drifting into other lanes or straddling lanes.
· Ignoring or missing traffic signals
· Driving well below the posted speed limit
· Stopping during moving traffic
· Getting lost or disoriented
· Accumulating car dents, scratches, or tire damage
· Marks, dents, or scrapes on the garage, mailbox, or curbs.
· Two or more traffic warnings in a year
· Failing to use turn signals
· Leaving turn signals on without changing lanes
What to do
Taking away your mom or dad’s car means limiting their autonomy and precious freedom, so it’s no wonder many adult children hesitate to broach the subject with their parents. But ignoring Mom’s hazardous turns or Dad’s tendency to wander over the center line can only lead to an accident later. Talk with your parent early and often about the necessity of finding alternative modes of transport so they have time to adjust to the idea. In the meantime, monitor and document incidents, dents, or scratches on their car.
What else to do:
· Look into alternative modes of transportation.
· Look into occupational therapy for driving.
· Look into safe driving classes and better insurance rates.
· Look into ride services.
· Enlist the help of their physician, optometrist, or senior care consultant to explain why driving isn’t worth the risk.
· Emphasize the need to protect other people’s safety.
Talk about the benefits!
Many senior living communities have transportation built into resident life. At Melrose Meadows, transportation is included in the rent! Valet service to the front door of your doctor appointment? Yes please. Driving in inclement weather, dealing with traffic or navigating ridiculous parking ramps? Not anymore.
If transportation isn't available and it falls to you, emphasize that giving Mom or Dad a ride is not a burden. You like spending time with them. It gives you a chance to catch up. Focus on the upsides, not what they're giving up.
If drastic action is needed
· Enlist an elder law professional.
· Register a complaint with the DMV. They may require your parent to re-take the driving test.
To learn about this transportation and other included amenities, give Melrose Meadows a call at 319-341-7893.