Driving is a big part of many parents’ lives, whether they are hauling kids around to appointments and soccer practice or heading out to babysit the grandkids. The idea of not having their licence can seem impossible.
However, the fact is that as our parents get older, they could be putting themselves and others at risk when they are behind the wheel. Following are some signs that suggest it’s time for your own mom or dad to put the keys away.
Their vision and hearing are impaired
As we get older, it is not uncommon to experience vision or hearing loss. Even partial loss of these senses can put a driver at risk. They may not see or hear crucial warnings around them, which could trigger an accident.
They are on certain or multiple medications
Older drivers can have various health conditions that require medication. These medications can impair a driver if they have dangerous interactions or harmful side effects. Medications can have the same impact on motorists as illicit substances or alcohol, so talk to your parent about what they take and how the medicine affects them.
They have memory loss
A driver with dementia or memory loss can become confused and dangerous when operating a motor vehicle. They may forget where they are going or experience delays in their decision-making. Sometimes, they ignore traffic signals or have difficulty staying in their lanes.
Under these circumstances, a driver can be at an increased risk of crashing.
How you can protect them
If you start noticing these in your parent, it can be time to talk to them about their driving. This can undoubtedly be a difficult conversation, but you can make it easier by keeping the discussion focused on their safety.
Some things you can do include:
- Ensuring their licence is valid (especially if they are over 80)
- Having them restrict their driving to short distances or specific places
- Helping them find alternative transportation options
- Periodically checking in with them
- Talking to them about the risks to older drivers
- Creating a transition plan to make the change gradually
These tips can help you have a conversation with your parents that could ultimately save lives.