When to stop driving is a very difficult issue for many families especially since driving is a main source of independence. As we age, there are normal changes to or vision and how our brain processes what we see. If you add dementia to aging, the vision changes will be more pronounced. Imagine losing your peripheral vision and only seeing through binoculars or monoculars. Driving while wearing binoculars will cause you to not see traffic patterns or have time to prepare when cars are passing. It is very important to be a passenger while your loved one drives and observe their abilities. Focus your explanation and reasons for being concerned on safety, rather than lack of ability. Share with your loved one your concerns and discuss how you know they would be devastated if they were in an accident and injured another person. Make a plan in advance for transportation to shopping, beauty shop, church, etc so they are not feeling cut off from friends and things they love to do.
Look for any of the issues below and contact your loved one and healthcare provider if you are concerned about their abilities.
- Other drivers honking or being impatient
- Have there been accidents or tickets
- Are they cutting people off
- Improper lane usage
- Slowing down or pulling to the side when a car passes
- Not stopping the proper distance at a stop sign or stop light
- Unexplained dents or scratches on the vehicle
- Taking the ‘scenic’ route instead of a direct route
- Do they become frustrated and agitated with other drivers
You can request a driver’s assessment referral from your healthcare provider that can be billed to their insurance to evaluate for safety. You can also request driving test at the local DMV. Know that if they fail these tests, they will lose their license and automobile insurance. Once they retire from driving, be sure the keys are not left out in plain sight or left in the car as they have forgotten they can no longer drive.