Yes, Driving… Is my parent safe to continue driving? Posted August 7, 2011 in Our articles

We understand that one associates driving with freedom, independence,  remaining active and involved.  Driving signifies autonomy.  In fact it’s been studied; seniors who discontinue driving, get out less, are less social and in fact do experience increased social isolation, this comes as no surprise.  Isolation that leads to a decrease in socialization can put an elder person at risk for depression.  What can you do?  It makes sense to begin the conversation with the understanding that this is a loaded topic and one that is often dreaded by seniors, understandably reluctant to relinquish their independence.

If someone near and dear to you has had a change in cognition, has declining motor reflexes, newly noted difficulty in movement at the wheel, or effictively using the rear view mirror, it is important to investigate the cause especially if it is sudden.  In an effort to determine how to proceed, contact the Primary Care Physician, request a medical evaluation to identify factors contributing to a status change.  Changing medical conditions, sensory or reflex decline, mobility issues, mental impairment or the effects of polypharmacy may all be considerations.  The AMA provides guidelines to Physicians on assessing factors that contribute to driver safety.  Additionally, the Physician may suggest an assessment by a Physical Therapist or an Occupational Therapist offering yet another course of treatment.  AARP offers guidance on this subject and holds a Driver Safety Program in many cities.  The Department Of Motor Vehicles has a policy and procedure recommendation to follow in the event of a concern.

In an effort to resolve this challenge, be creative, seek alternative resources, the Area office on Aging can provide resources in communities regarding transportation.  Consider  including community transit for seniors, car pools, share ride, a church or synagogue based transport option, a local college student or a driving service.  As difficult as this can be, this is a conversation worth having, and maybe the senior in your life may be anticipating the conversation, it’s okay to ask.