Giving up one’s driver’s license is probably one of the most difficult transitions people face as they age. Whether from physical or mental limitations, the thought of being unable to jump in the car and drive where they want to at a moments notice just confirms their continuing loss of independence. Fortunately, there are specialists that can help your parent drive safer longer, and know the signs to look for when it’s best to give up the keys and find alternative transportation.
Where to Start
If you are concerned about your parent’s driving ability, start by making an appointment with their primary health care provider. There are medications that can cause unsafe driving conditions, particularly when multiple medications are being taken at one time. Often, these can be modified to make it safer to drive.
Their physician may also recommend a driver rehabilitation specialist. These professionals are trained to determine if a person is a safe and effective driver. If they deem your parent is unfit to be behind the wheel, it is much easier for them to hear this news from someone certified and trained to know what to look for than from a family caregiver. They are also trained to help your parent stay behind the wheel longer by helping them cope with physical limitations such as stiff muscles and chronic pain. They may place restrictions on your parent’s driving such as no night time driving, or driving within a certain radius, or no driving on the highways.
AAA offers several resources for aging drivers. This includes CarFit clinics where trained technicians and occupational therapists “fit” your parent to their car to ensure maximum comfort and safety. AAA’s Senior Driver Expo offers seniors and their families a chance to obtain information on mobility aids that can keep them driving safely. They also offer senior defensive driving programs and driving refresher courses.
When it’s Time
If it has been determined that it is time for your parent to give up their car keys, help them adapt by letting them know the numerous alternatives that exist for transportation. Start a volunteer sign up sheet with friends, family, neighbors and various community organizations. You’ll be surprised at how many people are willing and happy to assist when asked. Many communities offer their own volunteer organization designed to provide transportation to homebound seniors. A national volunteer organization, Drive a Senior, may be operating in your parent’s area. A home care provider can provide transportation as well as assist with the daily activities of living. Your local Area Agency on Aging and senior community center can offer a wealth of information in this area and others as it relates to your aging parent. As a family caregiver, this can be a challenging time for both you and your parent. Together, you can find reliable alternatives that help keep your parent active and engaged.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring a professional caregiver in Stockton, CA, please contact the caring staff at ApexCare®. Proudly Serving Sacramento, Yolo, Placer & El Dorado Counties. Call Today 916-924-9111.