BY KEVIN SAWYER – One of the most difficult decisions that can be made as we age, or as a loved one gets older, is when to know when it is time to stop driving. It is, believe it or not, one of the biggest fears people have as they age and one of the biggest challenges for people with elderly loved ones.
There is plenty of research around that suggests that a loss of being able to drive tends to lead to more acute physical ailments and illnesses as well as the onset of clinical depression. The ability to drive is associated with freedom and the ability to be in charge of your own life. The possibility of having movement restricted can send many a senior into a funk that they may well never get out of.
For many. especially the elderly, much of their life revolves around driving. Perhaps they are still working. They need to get to the store and the pharmacy as well as visit friends and family and even be able to keep attending church or beloved social groups or events. Losing the ability to drive can be a serious trauma to everyone involved.
As infirmities begin to mount with age, they should not be ignored or simply brushed off. Serious impairments can lead to slower reaction times, confused thinking and even the inability to remember directions to even where they are. Also, what about weather conditions? What about traffic and the highway? What about hearing and eyesight?What about the huge stress of modern day driving with the additional traffic and road rage to deal with? These are hard questions that need to be addressed.
As you age, you must be honest with yourself because you will be taking your life, as well as the lives of others into your hands. If you have an aging loved one, you need to talk to them about it and consult with their doctor about recent events and afflictions that might be affecting their driving.
It will be helpful, overall, if the senior is allowed to drive for as long as possible. There may be restrictions that are needed to be put into place but try and allow them to drive or as long as they are not a danger to themselves or to others. Are they any more incapable than a 16 year old teenager? If a senior begins to suffer from significant impairment yet becomes angry and belligerent when it is suggested that they stop driving, you, or their doctor, may have to take the drastic step of having their driver’s license suspended or revoked.
PHOTO CREDIT: Nathalia Bariani