While some senior adults are certainly capable of driving, it’s natural for most seniors to begin to develop problems that may impair their ability to drive. Whether you’re worried about vision problems, hearing abilities, or another physical issue, it’s essential to be aware of your loved one’s driving ability to keep them safe. But how should you assess their ability to drive, and what can you do to ensure they continue driving safely?
Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to ensure your senior loved one’s well-being while driving. Take a look at some of the most important things you can do to assess their skills behind the wheel:
- Go for a Drive. First things first, take a drive with them! This is an easy way to see if they are still doing everything they need to do to be safe on the road. Go a short drive, and decide on the destination and route before they start driving. When you’re on the road, observe and answer some crucial questions about their driving.
For example, are they observing and recognizing all street signs and signals while driving? Are they using a turn signal when switching lines? Can they remember the route to the destination, and can they figure their way back home with an alternate route? All of these will tell you important things about their driving ability.
- Assess Their Behavior/Symptoms. Beyond the driver’s seat, your loved one may exhibit signs of being unfit to drive even before getting into the car. If you notice a shift in their physical or cognitive health, you may want to reconsider putting them behind the wheel. Dangerous health symptoms may include forgetfulness, confusion or disorientation, vision or hearing issues, dizziness, fatigue, difficulty following instructions or answering questions, and frequent tripping or falling.
- Make a Plan. If you’re worried about your loved one driving but still want them to be independent, consider giving them some driving restrictions that will keep them alert and safe. Avoiding driving at night, in inclement weather, on the weekends, and the freeway/highway are easy ways to ensure your loved one is driving in ideal conditions. Hence, their risk of injury is much smaller than usual.
- Consult with a Doctor. Meet with your loved one’s primary physician so they can make an official evaluation. They may recommend an occupational therapy driving assessment and visits to a driving clinic to help your loved one keep their independence through driving. You may also want to speak to neurologists and eye doctors – dementia may lead to unsafe driving habits. Eye doctors will ensure your loved one has the most updated eyeglasses prescription.
Addington Place at East Lake is a vibrant senior living community in Tarpon Springs, Florida. With chef-inspired meals, compassionate staff available to serve you 24 hours a day, and engaging social activities, our residents live fulfilling lives with the comforts of assisted living. Visit our website to learn more, or call us at (727) 491-5256 for more information!