As we age, some of the changes that our bodies go through can make driving a less safe activity for seniors. Eye diseases, arthritis, memory problems, side effects from medications, and more, can all make it harder to street, react to conditions on the road, and make decisions behind the wheel.
Seniors who experience these changes may find themselves wondering whether or not it’s safe to keep driving. Family members will inevitably wonder as well, and may find themselves pressuring older loved ones to give up the car keys before the senior themselves may want to.
The decision to stop driving shouldn’t be made lightly. The ability to drive can keep seniors independent and active in the community. Many older adults experience loneliness and isolation when cut off from reliable transportation.
Before the decision to stop driving is made, the first step is to assess their driving skills. Either a doctor can recommend an evaluation for safety driving, or you could look into the possibility of taking a driver’s education class geared towards seniors.
In some cases, however, the issue may not necessarily be the senior’s driving ability. The reality of the situation may be that their car may not have kept up with their needs, and they aren’t driving the right car. Maybe the car is too large, or maybe the visibility out the side and back windows isn’t optimal. The dashboard might have a confusing layout, or be difficult to read. Seniors can use the CarFit program, sponsored by AAA, the AARP, and the American Occupational Therapy Association, to assess their vehicles. This program can be accessed at www.car-fit.org.