Once conversations have occurred about decreasing or stopping driving, pull out all the stops! [So to speak]
Suggest or even insist on a professional or state evaluation—sometimes this suggestion can get a more realistic response and spur an honest self-evaluation of the driving senior. Or encourage your senior to enroll in a course for refresher skills. Many driver evaluation tools are available and listed below. Assessment tools from The Hartford Services Group, Carfit, Alzheimer’s Association, and others are included.
Another approach involves taking the conversation to the bottom-line financial cost of driving and maintaining a vehicle. Discuss the breakdown of owning, insuring, licensing, parking and general automobile care. Appeal to the pocketbook. Minimize transportation–related issues by utilizing delivery services of groceries, prescription medication, even prepared meals, and shopping by catalog or online with assistance from an advocate.
Safety of your Elder and the safety of others must be considered first. Because the result of unsafe driving can mean serious injury and even death of the senior and others, there may come a time that keys must be relinquished or the vehicle disabled. If no amount of rational discussion has convinced your older driver to stop driving, even the use of driver evaluation assessments, professional and personal recommendations, there are some steps you can take to get impaired drivers off the road.
- Organize an intervention-invite family, close friends clergy, a social worker or nurse, and anyone else your senior might view as an impartial authority. AND be respectful during the meeting no matter what. If more than one person is present, it will not seem like nagging. Give specific examples like: “You cannot turn your head as easily anymore, or you have had three parking lot accidents this year,” etc. During this meeting, all those who can volunteer to drive should make their offering known.
- Make an anonymous report to the local Department of Motor Vehicles and explain your concerns. You will be asked to provide the driver’s vehicle license and/or name. A driving test may be initiated or even a warning letter issued. Both of these may convince the impaired driver to discontinue driving and hand over the keys.
- If medications are impairing your driver, request a ‘No Driving” prescription from the treating physician.
- Alter the vehicle to impede function/make it impossible to start, lose the keys, or remove all together.
These last measures may seem so extreme, but remember that this approach saves lives. Understand that the change of no longer driving is an extremely difficult transition. Make sure to be present and willing to assist during such an emotional time. Hopefully your senior will understand and respect what it takes to offer this tough-love solution to aging.
Senior Driving Assessment Resources: