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When a Loved One’s Driving Skills Decline

Getting older does not mean that milestones are over. As time goes on and as capacity diminishes, important decisions must be made. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encourages family members and caregivers to have that vital, yet difficult conversation.

The latest NHTSA data from 2018 shows that nearly one-fifth of fatal car accidents involve drivers who are 65 and older. To prevent your loved one from being a statistic requires knowing the signs of declining driving skills that can include:

  • Getting lost on familiar routes
  • Exterior damage to the vehicle
  • Traffic violations, including impaired driving
  • Near-misses in motor vehicle accidents

Know the Signs

If you have an elderly family member who shows signs of driving-related decline, a discussion on safety can make a difference. Not that traveling via car has to come to an end. In fact, proactive steps to identify any mobility needs can prolong operating a vehicle with certain safety measures in place. That may involve adapting the car and knowing, selecting, installing, and maintaining the appropriate adaptive devices.

For the elderly, the option of having a friend or loved one “chauffeur” them around or take public transportation takes away a significant amount of their independence. The tough conversation could lead to resistance. Knowing how to approach the subject can sidestep any rancor and establish a solutions-driven approach.

In some situations, your loved one simply does not have a choice. Family physicians often intervene when specific health issues, serious illnesses, and prescribed medication can affect the operation of a vehicle.

Regardless of the circumstances that may necessitate a significant lifestyle change for an elderly loved one, the right decision can help them enjoy a longer and safer life.