Senior citizens driving? Is it time? When do senior citizens know it's time to retire from driving? Retiring from driving could be one of the most difficult moments in your aging parent’s life. Ideally this conversation has been happening over some time. (See the 5 Stages of The Driving Conversations below.)
Regardless of the preparation, when a parent is no longer able to
drive there is a time of readjustment and grief. Many things have
changed that have led up to this moment and signal yet another major
loss. But the key is to prepare to end senior citizens driving so that
they can maintain as much freedom and control and choice in their lives
One senior in a study sponsored by AAA summarized the magnitude of the loss this way…“Can’t see, can’t hear, can’t walk, but I have my car.”
When it’s time to retire from driving, it’s a serious matter… often a matter of life and death.
show that senior citizens driving have the highest fatality rate in car
accidents. In part, because of the severity of the crashes, but also
because frailty that comes from age makes it much more difficult to
recover from the physical trauma of a car accident.
Along the way you have worked with your parent and professionals to evaluate not only their driving, but their mental and physical abilities:
The decision to retire from driving is NOT an ultimatum. It is not a single conversation as in “It’s time to have the talk.” Not by force as in “It’s time to take away the keys.”
Ideally this conversation is the next step in a process. Your aging parent has been a partner in monitoring and evaluating the changes in their own driving abilities and challenges.
Even if you did not begin this process well before you are observing serious changes in your parent’s driving ability, it’s best to attempt to move through the 5 Stages of The Driving Conversation in an abbreviated form. Rather than having these conversations about senior citizens driving over a period of years, you may need to have them over months or weeks, or even days. You want your parent to be in the position to say, “Yes, it’s time to retire from driving” for themselves. You want them to be your partner in creating this plan.
Certified Driving Rehabilitation Specialists
Driving Rehabilitation Specialists can give the final word on your
parent's driving ability. They are certified to assess all the complex
functions that will permit your parent to continue to drive safely. They
normally work on a referral basis from your doctor, but may be
available for questions or consultations. This list will allow you to
find a Certified DRS by state. Many hospitals can often refer you to an
occupational therapist trained to provide the same functions.
To Understand the 5 Stages of The Driving Conversation, click the links to the pages below:
Return to Senior Drivers Overiew Page
Return to Stage 1 - The Driving Conversations
Ideally you begin this conversation before any issues have presented themselves. Establish your concern for the future and align yourself with being on the same team as your aging parent.
Return to Stage 2 - The First Signs of Change
What to look for as early signs of change in driving habits. Self-assessment tools offered. Providing support to preserve maximum freedom.
Return to Stage 3 - The Warning Signs
Learn the signals that there are more serious concerns. What professional medical assessments could be suggested. Referrals to Driving Rehabilitation Specialists and adaptive devices for the car are discussed.
Click Here to Read Stage 5 - Preserving Independence After Driving
Plan ahead to maintain their freedom. Creative transportation alternatives to driving.
Senior citizens driving to talk early talk often with aging parents Home Page