Most of us think that inconsistent driving and getting lost on the way to places are the tell-tale signs of mom or dad needing to stay off the road. While these symptoms are the most recognizable, there may be signs leading up to these that present themselves, that should not be ignored. We are all guilty of the occasional scratch or ding on the car or parking over the line, but it is when dings turn into dents, and uneven parking becomes a regular occurrence, we should start to pay attention. Evidence of these two signs does not mean that driving privileges should be revoked, but close attention should be paid if these are becoming normal with an elderly driver.
Driving habits that used to be second nature may also be affected. Confusion is a common trait with the elderly, and can be particularly detrimental when driving. If an elderly loved one is confusing the brake pedal with the gas pedal, they can be a danger to their physical health and to others. This may result in unnecessary accidents or bodily harm. In addition to confusion regarding the brake and gas pedals, frequent uneven parking is also cause for concern. This can indicate reduced eyesight and poor distance judgement. This is dangerous because they may misjudge the distance away from other cars and run into them, or cause damage to their own cars.
Other signs to look out for involve actions while driving. One thing that tends to be of concern when we age is response time. If mom or dad’s response time is slower than what it should be and has startled them (or you) while driving, this is concerning. This can be harmful to them and other passengers. Straddling lines along the road is also something to look out for. Mom or dad may feel more comfortable with more space around them while driving, but driving in between lanes is not permitted by law and can be an indicator of poor eyesight. Lastly, going the incorrect speed is a side effect of anxiety or fear of driving. They may feel more comfortable going slowly on the road, but this can be dangerous. Especially when driving on a major road or highway, going slow can put the elderly driver and passengers in dangerous positions.
These symptoms are to be considered on a case by case basis. Reduction in speed or unusual dents or scratches alone may not be a reason to deter mom or dad’s independence on the road, but should definitely be monitored. If any of these issues are indicating concern, then it may be time to have a discussion to determine staying on or off the road.
If your loved one needs transportation to and from appointment, to run errands, etc. Senior Home Companions can help, contact us today at 800-736-4692.