Has an aging loved one recently had a car accident? Maybe it was just a fender bender, but it may point to a larger issue. Have you noticed dents or scrapes on their car, curb, or fences? No one wants to be told that they are no longer fit to drive, but by intervening you may be saving the life of the one you love or the life of a stranger. Here are 4 important signs that it may be the best move to put the brakes on driving.
1. Trouble Seeing. This may seem obvious, but unless a senior explicitly tells you they are having problems with their eye sight, you may have difficulty figuring it out. A person may be having difficulty seeing while driving if they are getting lost in familiar areas, missing turns or exists, or not following traffic signals. There are many diseases and eye issues that come along with aging, and all of these can affect the safe driving of an adult.
2. Trouble Hearing. If a person cannot hear well, they may not be able to hear a horn honking in warning, the blaring of a police car or ambulance as it barrels down the road, or notice strange noises coming from their own car. It is recommended that persons over the age of 50 have their hearing checked every three years. Suggest that the aging adult speak with their doctor, as sometimes there are tools that can help them if they have hearing loss.
3. Trouble Moving. Stiff joints, arthritis, and muscle pain can affect the reaction times of anyone. Imagine not being able to move your foot quickly enough from the gas pedal to the brake pedal, or not being able to feel how much pressure you are putting on the gas pedal. If you cannot easily and quickly look over your shoulder, how will you change lanes or merge safely? These can cause serious safety problems and should not be overlooked or taken lightly. Hand controls are available to put into cars if someone suffers from leg problems. Exercise and a healthy diet also ensure that joints and muscles remain loose and pliable.
4. Trouble Focusing. If a loved one gets easily confused, lost, or has a hard time remembering daily tasks, it’s probably safe to say that they are not driving safely. Is your loved one easily distracted, forgetful, or easily angered? Cognitive decline can slowly creep in to the minds of our loved ones and we don’t always notice the signs right away. These factors make for a very unstable and unpredictable driver.
If you notice these signs in a loved one, or perhaps yourself, AARP offers a Driver’s Safety Course that can evaluate if it’s still safe to be on the road. Perhaps all you need is a refresher course on the rules of safe driving. If you think you may have to have that difficult talk with a loved one, AARP also has an online seminar called We Need To Talkthat can help walk you through the steps of how to approach this difficult subject.