There are over 48 million licensed drivers aged 65 and over in the US. Aging drivers often want to maintain their independence by driving, but what happens when an unsafe senior drives? What can you do if your parent won’t stop driving?
Age-related changes put older drivers at risk on the road. Physical functioning, memory issues, vision changes, medications, and illness are factors that can impact driving ability.
If your elderly parent is driving when they shouldn’t be, it is time to take action. While it can feel overwhelming for them to stop driving, it is essential to act to keep them safe. Here is what to do if they won’t stop driving.
Know the Driving Warning Signs
There are some warning signs you can look out for to confirm that an elderly parent is unsafe to drive. Warning signs include:
- Getting lost in familiar areas
- Damaging the car
- Going too slow or fast regularly
- Struggling to park or turn
- Getting driving violation tickets
- Running stop signs or lights
- Incorrectly using lanes
If you are worried about an aging driver, observe their driving if possible. Go with them on an errand and see whether your concerns are valid. It also helps to experience their driving so you can give real-life evidence when you speak to them.
Talk to Them
If your elderly parent won’t stop driving, it is time to talk with them. Pick a time and location to discuss the matter, including any loved ones involved in their care. Prepare alternative transport solutions for them so they are more likely to be on board with the plan.
Recognize that it is a sensitive subject for many people, as driving can be their source of independence. Focus on the benefits of stopping driving and your concern about them. You can only prepare your reaction, not theirs, so be open to hearing their opinion and letting them reflect on the conversation.
Consider Professional Support
Does your parent work with a professional they respect? This could be a primary care physician, an optometrist (eye doctor), an attorney, or another healthcare professional. An older driver may be more likely to listen to professional advice and respect the decision to get them to stop driving.
In some states, such as California, doctors have to report diagnoses of disorders that could cause consciousness lapses. This includes Alzheimer’s and other conditions that could impair driving.
You can also suggest a driving aptitude test or a driving evaluation with the hospital they go to or an occupational health team. It may help encourage them to try the test if they know it won’t revoke their license. Once they see their results, they may understand the reasons to stop driving.
Contact the DMV
The State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can assist you if your elderly parent is still refusing to stop driving. You can contact the DMV directly and even stay anonymous if you choose.
The DMV will then investigate the case, check your parent’s ability, and review their driving record. In some states, seniors over 70 must renew their licenses every five years. Each state has its own guidelines for revoking licenses.
However, the DMV usually conducts tests such as a visual examination, driving aptitude test, or road test if there are indications of impairment. A law enforcement officer, family member, or physician can give these indications.
The DMV may place restrictions on the license or encourage them to try a program, such as the California Ombudsman program. Revoking their license may not stop a senior from driving; however, in many cases, it can help.
Hold the Keys
It is important to be open with your elderly parent, as conflict can occur if you start to remove the keys or car without their permission. Legally it can be a great area, so seek legal advice.
However, some people find looking after their loved one’s keys helpful for safekeeping, especially if they have memory issues. Some people take the car for repairs or lend the vehicle to a family member to provide the break an elderly parent often needs to realize driving is no longer safe for them.
It can also be helpful to ask for their input to show they are valued; for example, suggesting a younger family member uses the car to practice driving, and they can be a passenger or provide feedback.
Use a Senior Transportation Service
One of the main reasons that elderly parents often resist stopping driving is if there is no alternative solution. While you can offer to assist them, consistency is vital to give them peace of mind. It is even better if you use a senior transportation service that addresses mobility aids, such as wheelchairs.
When aging drivers feel comfortable with a service, they are more likely to be open to stopping driving. You can also introduce the idea in advance, so they can get used to it and be on board for the change. It can help prevent isolation for your elderly parent, which can encourage them to stop driving.
A professional senior transportation service often includes:
- Door-to-door service or curb-to-curb
- Wheelchair transport
- Stretcher support
- Stair chair lift assist
- Hospital discharge
Senior transportation services can take clients to all destinations. This includes special events like religious services, family functions, and weddings. They also can provide transport to doctors’ offices and other appointments.
Discuss the details of the transport with your elderly parent. Knowing they will have a more comfortable ride, a reliable service, and smooth transportation will encourage them to try it.
Stop Driving With Senior Transportation
Follow these tips to get aging drivers to stop driving. Focusing on empowering your elderly parent, not taking away their independence, is important.
Using a senior transportation service can help them stop driving without taking away their mobility. In fact, it can improve their comfort and independence, so they feel more confident going outside.
Are you looking for senior transportation in the Los Angeles area? Affinity Transit is here to help. Contact us today to discuss your elderly parent’s needs.