Hanging up the keys is one of the most difficult decisions to discuss with an elder in the family. Driving is about freedom and independence and it is not something that is easily given up. It symbolizes a passage that many older adults do not want to enter. Who can blame anyone for not wanting to let go of driving and all the great memories that we connect with having that freedom since the age of sixteen!
You may be noticing warning signs that a problem is developing. Some of these are a failure to yield to the right of way, making a turn without looking, difficulty in backing up or parking. As response times slow down, an older adult may be placing not only themselves in danger, but other drivers and pedestrians as well. Sometimes it is more apparent as increasing dents and scrapes are evident on the exterior of the car.
Your level of concern dictates the action that you take in your communication with your elder parent or relative.
- Start with explaining the signs of poor driving that you are seeing and the risk that it is taking for young children that do not pay close attention
- Enlist the help of their physician to support you
- Drive behind your parent and video tape them – a picture is worth a thousand words
- Disable the vehicle or sell it if your concern has reached a high level
- Recognize the fear that they are experiencing of being immobile and reliant on others to get around
- Visit the DrivABLE Website that gives information on the DrivABLE Test that is available locally to assess a person’s cognitive ability to drive safely. Kelowna is one of the 28 locations now in BC. The toll free number