From December 6th to the 10th, it’s Older Driver Safety Awareness Week. According to the CDC, about 540 older adults are injured in crashes each day. About 5% of them do not survive their injuries. Knowing how to gauge your dad’s driving and take away his keys when he’s no longer a safe driver is important for both his and other people’s safety.
How Is Your Dad’s Health?
Health conditions can impact your dad’s ability to drive. If he has arthritis in his hips, back, or neck, he may not comfortably twist far enough to fully check his blind spots before changing lanes.
If his vision is worsening or he has eye conditions like cataracts, then bright headlights or glaring sun may temporarily blind him. That can lead to him drifting off the road or into oncoming traffic.
Has your dad had a stroke or heart attack? If he has, he isn’t supposed to drive again until his doctor gives him medical clearance. Until that happens, take away his keys.
Is your dad taking any prescription medications? If so, do you know the side effects? Many cause troublesome side effects like drowsiness, dizziness, and loss of concentration. He shouldn’t drive if he’s taking medications with these side effects.
He Has Dementia or Memory Issues
Once your dad is diagnosed with dementia or shows signs of memory issues, he needs to stop driving. Even if he’s fine right now, it’s easier to adjust as soon as possible. The day will come when he no longer recognizes his home or forgets how to get home. He could end up hours from his home, lost and alone.
Situations like this happen regularly. In September, an elderly man left his New Jersey home and didn’t return, so his family called the police. A day later, he was stopped in Vermont after calls came in of a car driving the wrong way on the interstate. The man had driven almost 300 miles from his home before he was found.
He’s Mixed Up the Brake and Accelerator
Another common situation with elderly drivers is that they momentarily forget which pedal they need. The gas pedal and brake get mixed up, and they drive into another person, a building, or another car. If your dad’s reaction times have slowed, he needs to stop driving and let a home care aide take over the wheel.
Hire Home Care Aides to Drive Him
Severe injuries from crashes are more likely to occur in drivers over 70. This is often tied to thinning bones, loss of body fat, and complications from existing chronic health conditions. If it’s no longer safe for your dad to drive, make sure he doesn’t.
He’s going to complain about losing his freedom. Assure your dad that he’ll still come and go. Hire home care aides to drive him around town.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring Home Care in Bryn Mawr, PA, and the surrounding area, please contact the friendly staff at Suma Home Care. (484) 206-4544