Should My Parents Still Be Driving?

Posted on September 13, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Many adult children are concerned about their elderly parents still driving with diminished capacities such as poor eyesight or reaction skills. Unfortunately, driving is one of the most difficult things for parents to give up. It’s usually second only to being forced to leave their home.

For older adults, driving plays an important role in maintaining an active lifestyle. Seniors strive to keep their independence for as long as possible and one way to do this is to maintain their ability to get around. While many older drivers resist ceasing to drive altogether, many will place self-imposed limitations on themselves as they age. Many will decrease or discontinue driving at night or on the freeway. They will drive at a slower speed and typically decrease the distances they are willing to travel. Fortunately, seniors are more likely to wear safety belts and avoid drinking and driving.

Unfortunately, seniors at age 80 and over have a higher crash death rate per mile driven than all but teenagers. Most car accidents involving seniors occur during the daytime and on weekends. Older drivers injured in car accidents are more likely to die from their injuries than younger drivers.

Deciding if and when your parents should discontinue driving is a sensitive subject for children to approach. It’s a good idea to watch for changes in your parents driving habits, general behavior and overall health status. If you have concerns, it’s a good idea to speak with their physician and have them validate or address your concerns. People will typically view physicians as an authoritative voice and take the pressure off the adult children.

Some helpful tips for older drivers are…

  • Stay physically active which helps with strength, coordination and flexibility.
  • Manage chronic conditions such as low blood sugar, fatigue or any medications that could cause drowsiness.
  • Schedule regular vision and hearing exams, which are common age, related challenges to drivers.
  • Monitor and understand physical limitations such as arthritis, back pain or nerve related pain.
  • Avoid driving at night, high traffic conditions or driving while tired.
  • Drive to familiar destinations or always have directions.
  • Take advantage of community organizations that offer refresher courses for older drivers

While statistical data highlights certain risks, every family has to address the issue of elderly family members driving on an individual basis. As an option, caregivers often drive their elderly clients as a routine part of their care plan. When hiring a caregiver to drive a parent, male sure you have a DMV check on their driving history. Make sure they have adequate insurance and add them to your parent’s policy.

**Article compliments of Senior Helpers, Solana Beach 858.523.9170


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One Response to “Should My Parents Still Be Driving?”

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Good article.

This is such a critical and difficult topic for families and seniors – and even home care agencies. We have published a couple of articles on the topic:


Just this week, we began home care for a wonderful woman with dementia who still thinks she should be able to drive “just down to the local store”. Sadly, she expressed that thought about 10 times in a two hour period.

There is no way that driving is safe for her or anyone else, but it is so much a part of her self-image that giving it up is traumatic.

Again, good article on a tough, tough topic.
Bert Cave, Support For Home, Sacramento

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