Aging In Place

3/1/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

Since they became old enough to get a driver’s license, most people have been in love with driving and the freedom that it affords them. The average older adult drives over 7,600 miles per year, traveling to medical appointments, shopping, visiting family, attending social events, and recreation.

Unfortunately, as people age, their eyesight and hearing worsen, reflexes slow down, and the mental acuity required for safe driving diminishes. Some seniors have their driving privileges revoked. Others continue to drive well beyond the point they can do it safely.

For those older adults who stubbornly refuse to give up the keys, it might require some serious intervention. Some tips to get your parents to stop driving include:

  • Having a conversation during which you ask them to stop getting behind the wheel
  • Offering proof to them that they are no longer safe drivers
  • Scheduling a family meeting, so the message comes from other family members, too
  • Calming their fears by showing them alternatives to driving

Signs Your Older Parent Should Stop Driving

Transportation Options May Vary Depending on the Community

Here are some of the options when driving is no longer possible:

  • Community and faith-based non-profit organizations sometimes have volunteers who are willing to drive seniors to their appointments. The rides might be free, through a donation, or from membership dues.
  • Paratransit services are typically comprised of small vans and mini-buses and are run by aging organizations and others. The services could require reservations, although there is usually some flexibility. Most of the transportation is curb-to-curb, but others will pick you up at the door and take you to a specific address. Seniors often receive reduced fares.
  • Some aging organizations provide drivers or escorts to help you get from your home into a waiting vehicle. The service is exceptionally beneficial for older adults who are disabled or need support while walking.
  • Buses, trains, subways, trolleys, and other public transportation options have set routes and times and often offer reduced fares for older adults. The public transportation department in your area can provide information about fares, schedules, and accessibility for disabled seniors.
  • Taxi services have evolved and now give you several options for getting car services. In most cities, you can hail a cab on the street. You can probably call ahead for a taxi or call a car service such as Uber or Lyft. These two services usually require you to download an app onto a mobile device, and they might only be available in larger population areas. You also may have to pre-register and give them credit card information.

You May Need to Take More Drastic Measures to Get Your Parents to Stop Driving

If an older loved one still refuses to stop driving, even after your efforts to explain the dangers and give them alternatives, you could be forced to use an extreme method. But do not feel guilty or portray yourself as a “bad guy.” Think about the safety you are providing to the older adult, other drivers, or pedestrians.

1. Have their doctor talk to them

Older individuals tend to hold their physician’s opinions in higher esteem than a family member’s. Their doctor might address their physical and mental fitness while assessing whether they present a risk to themselves and others when they get behind the wheel.

2. Talk to the State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)

If nothing else is working, approach the DMV directly. The DMV will investigate their driving record and abilities and require the older driver to have a visual examination, take a written driving test, or take a road test with an inspector. These inspectors determine any action or decision regarding the status of their license.

3. Hold the keys for safekeeping

This method works best if their license has been officially revoked. If the older adult manages to get the keys and tries to drive, you should call the police to intercept them. Calling the cops is a last resort since it can come with severe consequences.

4. Disable the car

If you simply can’t get your parents to stop driving, a drastic way to prevent an older adult from driving is to disable their car. You could simply unplug the battery or invest $25 in a “Club” to lock the steering wheel.

5. Put the car in storage

Out of sight is out of mind. If the car is no longer available, perhaps the older loved one will eventually forget about it. The important thing is that if the vehicle isn’t in the garage, they can’t drive it.

Unsafe elderly drivers are a serious issue. If you see signs that your loved one is no longer safe behind the wheel, get them to stop driving!

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff