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SHOULD MOM & DAD STILL DRIVE THEIR CAR?

Losing control over one’s ability to perform acts of daily living can be a terrifying feeling. Most people cope with the changes by refusing to accept them. While denial provides temporary relief, it can also cause severe and irreversible damage. 

The loss of ability to drive like old times is one of the greatest reasons for remaining in a state of denial. With age, your parents or loved ones can experience a loss in hearing or vision, which can hinder their ability to focus attentively on the road. Moreover, senior citizens are more prone to accidents, as their ability to make swift decisions and demonstrate responsive reflexes is compromised. 

This begs the question, “Should mom and dad still be allowed to drive their car?” 

Driving in the old age comes with a certain degree of risk. However, if you notice the following warning signs, it is time to take the keys away. 

Your parents are seventy-five or older

With age, the person’s chances of getting involved in a car accident also increase. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that individuals above the age of 75 have higher crash-related death rates, in contrast to middle-aged individuals. With these statistics, it is evident that old age can cause severe accidents, which can place the lives of your parents, and others on the road, at grave risk. Considering this, it is recommended to limit or restrict the driving habits of parents after they have reached this age range. Even if your parents are in good health, it is always better to be safe than sorry. 

They miss the stop signs

Research shows that approximately 70,000 accidents are caused by running a stop sign. If your parents are at a stage where they are consciously or unconsciously missing or running the stop sign, it is important to place restrictions on their driving. Running a stop sign can lead to fatal injuries, including death. Therefore, it is extremely important to take action against the severe issue. 

They drive at an unfitting speed

If your parents are driving at an inappropriate speed, they can risk their own lives. Therefore, it is imperative to make sure that they do not drive at a speed that is above or below the speed limit. In such a scenario, your parents can encounter a crash, run over a passerby, or slow down the traffic. Keeping this in mind, you must step in and provide them with a driver or aide, who can fulfill their traveling needs. 

They are easily frustrated

Experiencing anger and frustration is common with age. However, if your parents are easily frustrated, and exhibit their frustration while driving, you must take over and place some restrictions. This is because being emotionally volatile can affect blood pressure, which can compromise the physical health. As a result, if you feel that your parents are easily angered by minor issues, such as heavy traffic, a driving error by some other individual on the road, or any other problem while driving, you must take an initiative that prevents them from driving.

The car shows dents or marks

One of the most apparent warning sign is the presence of dents or marks on the car. If you observe any damage to the vehicle, which your parents are unable to explain, it is extremely important to take the keys away. Damage to the exterior typically means that your parents got involved in a minor accident, which they failed to remember. This suggests that their state of mind can prevent them from driving safely. 

They refuse to accept errors in their driving

If you or an aide, provided by a home care agency, notes that your parents make several mistakes while driving, it is important to have a conversation with them about it. In the case that they refuse to accept their faults in driving, you are required to prevent them from driving. 

They exhibit a fear of driving

Sometimes, your parents can demonstrate a fear of driving, if they have recently had a traumatic experience. Keeping this in mind, it is essential to provide them with a driver or an aide, who can assist them with their traveling needs. This way, your parents would not have to depend on you and the gaps in your schedule to carry out their day to day activities. 

They get lost while driving 

Another issue that coincides with age is the presence of memory loss or occasions of memory lapses. If these events take place while driving, your parents can be at risk of getting involved in an accident or ending up in an unknown place. To guarantee their safety, you should place restrictions on them. 

Their doctors, aides, or friends have expressed concerns

During their old age, no one can understand the challenges that your parents can face, besides their doctors or aides. These individuals hold the experience that enables them to detect the signs and symptoms that can lead to reckless or dangerous behavior. Keeping that in mind, if you hear concerns about your parent’s driving from a doctor, aide, or a friend, it is essential to take it seriously.

They are taking medicines which prohibits driving

Your parents may be prescribed several medicines and supplements that keep them in shape. As their primary caregiver, you must thoroughly read the instructions, warning signs, and side effects of each of the medicine they take. Some of the drugs prescribed to senior citizens feature a label that warns against driving. Therefore, if your parents are taking these medicines, make sure that they do not engage in driving. Some of the medicines that might affect driving, according to the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are:

  • opioid pain relievers
  • prescription drugs for anxiety (for example, benzodiazepines)
  • anti-seizure drugs (antiepileptic drugs)
  • antipsychotic drugs
  • some antidepressants
  • products containing codeine
  • some cold remedies and allergy products, such as antihistamines (both prescription and OTC)
  • sleeping pills
  • muscle relaxants
  • medicines that treat or control symptoms of diarrhea
  • medicines that treat or prevent symptoms of motion sickness
  • diet pills, “stay awake” drugs, and other medications with stimulants (e.g., caffeine, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine)

It is important to note that every person experiences age differently. Therefore, there is no exact date for which your parents should give up on their keys. However, when you feel that they are a danger to themselves or others, it is important to place restrictions on their driving habits. 

For more senior insights & home care assistance, head back to the My Nurse Family blog.

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