Driving provides all individuals a certain sense of independence. One of the proudest moments people remember is when they receive their driver’s licenses for the very first time. As individuals age their reactions, senses, and cognitive abilities often decline. They eventually must relinquish their driver’s licenses and stop driving for safety reasons. This is extremely difficult to accept and can cause severe emotional disturbance such as hostility and depression.
It is important to understand exactly how much fear and sadness this evokes from seniors. They may feel as if they are giving up their entire world and independence. When elders cease driving they may begin to experience feelings of isolation and imprisonment.
Driving Cessation discussions with Elders
Hopefully discussions of driving cessation begin long before any accidents, damages, or injuries take place. Look for signs that elder driving abilities are declining such as slight damage to vehicles or parking areas. Many states have local programs that can help assess elder’s abilities to determine if there are any issues. In some cases, these can be resolved by obtaining new prescription glasses, enrolling in refresher courses, or simply altering transportation schedules.
It is important to speak with elders about driving cessation and essential that they be heard. Use some of the warning signs as discussion initiators. For example, present the fact that seniors seem stressed out and overly tired from or when driving.
Be prepared with alternatives for transportation before beginning a discussion of cessation. Ensure that these ideas and suggestions do not compromise elder dignity. The internet offers a simple method of investigating these alternatives. Many local community centers and church organizations have programs in place to help with senior mobility.
One effective solution may be to simply change senior driving habits. Perhaps they could run errands when traffic is at its slowest. Set driving schedules for daylight hours and good weather days. Help elders create an effective driving schedule and suggest they only complete a certain amount of tasks during each trip.
Ask the whole family to be involved in driving cessation discussions. Speak with them about the importance of showing support in the decision. Also make sure they understand how important it is to preserve elder dignity. Family members may be able to present new transport alternatives or contribute their own time to this endeavor. It is essential that elders receive encouragement and support. Do not ridicule, belittle, or berate them during this process.
There are a few measures that it is sometimes necessary to take to ensure that elders do not get out on the road. Remember this is for senior and other driver safety. These measures should be viewed as last resorts.
Disable vehicles so that they cannot be driven or completely remove them from the premises. This is likely to upset seniors greatly; however, if they will not listen, it may be the only method of protecting them. Hiding keys or altering the teeth by filing them is another option to prevent them from driving. While this is controversial, it does effectively protect seniors from being on the road. Keep in mind that some elders, such as those suffering from dementia, may forget that they are incapable of driving safely.
One other last alternative is to consult with senior physicians. If they are no longer safe driving and this is exhibited by medical evidence, doctors can have their licenses revoked completely by state medical measures. This too can upset elders and is often difficult for the physicians.
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