As individuals get older, the question of whether or not a person should still be behind the wheel can come up. While there may come a time when a person is unable to drive safely, there are steps people can take to stay on the road for longer.
As a person gets older, a person’s physical and mental abilities may begin to change. In terms of driving ability, people should have regular vision and hearing tests to make sure that they can still clearly see and hear potential dangers on the road. Individuals should keep in mind that they may need to adjust their driving position as they get older. Some people may also need a seat cushion to help see the road. While cars are safer than ever, new safety features aren’t going to help if drivers do not know how to properly use the features that their car comes with.
When evaluating whether or not a relative is still fit to drive, there are warning signs to watch out for. First, people should watch for any new scratches or dents on the car or around where the car is parked, i.e. a mailbox, garage, or car port. People may want to ride as a passenger to evaluate a person’s driving ability. People should watch out for the ability to stay in the lane, make turns without hitting a curb, and to maintain an appropriate speed for the road. Drivers whose abilities are deteriorating may also start avoiding certain situations. An unwillingness to attempt left turns or drive on busy streets or highways may indicate an unconscious admission that a person’s driving ability is not what it once was.
However, even broaching the idea of stopping someone from driving can be an extremely delicate conversation. The idea needs to be brought up slowly and over time. A loss of driving privileges can represent a significant loss of personal freedom and independence. People generally do not give up that freedom lightly. Seniors who give up driving may experience increased isolation, and as a result, suffer negative physical and emotional effects from their isolation. People should make a point of regularly visiting, or reaching out to, relatives who may feel isolated.
In general, individuals, and their families, should plan for what to do in case a person begins to lose their ability to live independently well before any such plan needs to be put into effect. An elder law attorney can work with individuals to develop a plan that will protect their interests in case of potential incapacities while still ensuring their personal wishes are respected.
To develop a plan to protect your interests in case of a potential incapacity, please call Martha C. Brown & Associates at (314) 962-0186.