December is the month when the US Department of Transportation highlights the need to evaluate how our elders drive during Older Drivers Safety Awareness Week. As our population ages, the number of people 65 and older who are killed in traffic crashes continues to increase.
Evaluating someone’s safety behind the wheel should be a continuous re-evaluation. Changes to health, eyesight, hearing, reaction time, medications, and mild cognitive impairment are all reasons to monitor an elder’s ability to continue driving. Springpoint at Home’s Aging Lifecare Advisor™ / Care Manager team is a trusted resource that can raise driving concerns with the family and the driver any time of the year.
Having a third party initiate the conversation with you and your elder can be very helpful because the third party does not have the emotional investment of family members, nor are they caught up in family dynamics. It is important to have a rational discussion in a way that helps an elder decide not to drive. Asking someone to stop driving takes away independence and control, even a loss of self-esteem. A third party is often able to make progress that family members cannot. After all, independence is one of the ten things elders value most. Is it any wonder that a request to stop driving is something many elders resist?
Understanding what motivates your elder is important when you approach a conversation about driving. If finances are a motivator, then talking about the high price of gas and insurance can help them decide to give up driving. So can an expression of concern about driving at night, especially if they are secretly concerned about the safety of others when they drive. Keep in mind that you can keep dignity and autonomy intact by scheduling a routine for pick-ups with family, friends, or ride services instead of forcing the person to “ask” for a ride.
Resistance to stop driving can be especially difficult if someone has a progressive brain disease. You cannot ask someone with a memory impairment to decide to no longer drive. The responsibility is on the family to stop the person with dementia, not for them to self-regulate because they cannot. In fact, their brain is telling them they are fine. They are not being difficult; they are still living in a time when they could drive.
This may require a slightly different approach that our Aging Lifecare Advisor™ / Care Manager team can help you implement for a person living with a memory impairment. For example, asking them to “loan” the car to a grandchild for work or to practice before they take their driver’s license test. You can move the car out of sight and tell them it is out for repair. You may even need to disable the vehicle. And your Springpoint at Home Aging Lifecare Advisor™ / Care Manager can help to ensure that everyone is on the same page so that the story has consistency. This includes other family members and friends, even the local mechanic. It is equally important that a person with a progressive brain disease does not have to “ask” for a ride and that routine pick-ups with family and friends are implemented.
To learn more about Springpoint at Home and how we can help with this issue and many others, call 844-724-1777.