Knowing When Your Senior Should Stop Driving


Most people get their driver’s license around the time that they are in their mid-teens. While each state has a defined age for when people can get their driver’s license, they don’t tend to have a set age for when someone needs to give up their driving privileges. Watching out for these signs that a senior should stop driving helps family caregivers know when it is time to encourage their loved ones to find a safer way to get where they want to go.

They’ve Had Changes In Their Eyesight

A senior’s eyesight can change rapidly, and most seniors should be having an eye examination done at least twice a year. A senior who cannot see might not be able to read the road signs. Poor eyesight may also make it difficult to read the speedometer and other important information. Some vision problems can also include being unable to judge speed or distance, which increases the chances of a senior having an accident.

They Complain About Being Unable to Hear Well

Drivers need to be able to rely upon their sense of hearing as well. Seniors with hearing loss may not hear warning signals such as a siren or horn honking. A senior may also be unable to notice different sounds coming from their car that could signal that an emergency is imminent. Being able to hear brakes or a belt squealing is important for helping a senior to know when they may need to pull off of the road or get repairs to avoid a breakdown.

Their Reaction Time is Slowing Down

There’s a reason why teenagers are so good at video games. Younger people have faster reaction times, and a senior’s ability to respond quickly to changing conditions on the road declines with age. A senior can have a doctor check their reaction time to see if it falls within safe levels. However, caregivers are often the first to notice that their loved one doesn’t move as fast as they did in the past. Dropping things or being unable to catch something before it falls is a sign that a senior may be having trouble with their ability to respond quickly enough to avoid an accident if someone pulls out in front of them or stops unexpectedly.

They’re Experiencing Memory Challenges

Seniors with memory loss are at risk for falling into several dangerous situations when they drive. The most obvious one is that a senior may get lost. Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and other health conditions that affect their memory may drive long distances without realizing what they are doing. For example, a senior may attempt to drive to a different state if they are no longer able to remember that they moved from there years ago. If a senior has memory challenges, they may also make unreasonable decisions such as letting a stranger hop in their car because they think that it is a family member.

They Struggle With Coordination

Arthritis and other conditions that cause a senior to have stiff joints or muscles can limit their ability to drive well. A senior who has a neck injury might not be able to turn their head to check for traffic as they back up their vehicle. Or, a senior may not be able to press the brake pedal quickly due to stiff knee joints.

They Have a New Health Diagnosis

A senior may be fine driving one day and then experience a change in their health that impacts their ability to drive the next. For instance, a senior who has a seizure may be asked to avoid driving for a specific number of months. The same may also be true if they’ve had a stroke. Other conditions, such as diabetes, can cause a senior to lose consciousness while driving if they are not properly managed. After a new health diagnosis, seniors can ask their doctor if they are safe to continue driving. If not, then they’ll need to make arrangements for a ride until they get their health under control.

They’ve Had Multiple Accidents

The average person rarely has a car accident. Even when a person has a car accident, there are often understandable factors involved such as hazardous road conditions. Seniors who have frequent accidents are likely to be having some type of issue that is affecting their driving. Keep in mind that a senior may attempt to hide frequent accidents. Noticing new dents, paint scratches and other types of damage to the car is a clear sign that it is time to talk to them about their driving abilities.

Talking to a senior loved one about their issues with driving can be challenging, but it may be necessary to keep them safe. Try to talk to them when they are relaxed and in a good mood. It is also a good idea to have a few solutions in mind that can reassure your loved ones that they’ll still be able to get around town. Senior care services often include driving older adults to and from their appointments and social events so that your loved one never has to miss an essential part of their daily routine. Consider these tips the next time you are looking for a retirement village in Sydney.