For many of us, especially those that didn’t grow up in a big city with extensive public transportation, driving a car is a symbol of freedom and independence. As soon as we turned 16 and got our driver’s license we were free of our parents having to drive us everywhere, and that feeling doesn’t seem to let up as we age. Especially as we age, and our families move out of the house, being able to drive to meet up with friends, or even to run errand and go to doctor’s appointments, is critical to a certain way of life. Which makes it all that much harder to let go of a driver’s license when you get older.
Many adult children struggle with how and when to broach the subject of giving up a driver’s license with an elderly parent. After all, these are the people who taught us to drive. But for many people there comes a time when it’s smart to stay off the road, for safety reasons. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, people 70 and older are more likely to crash than any age group other than those 25 and younger. While there’s no magic number that tells you the right age to stop driving, there are some physical changes as we age that make driving more of a challenge.
Vision. As people get older, and eyes age, we need more light to see. For example, a 60 year old needs 10times as much light to see the same thing as a 19 year old. That makes it harder for older people to drive at night. Also, the ability to focus slows down, making it harder to shift from looking at the dashboard to looking at objects far away outside the front windshield.
Reflexes. The rest of our body changes as we age as well. Stiff neck and back muscles make it harder to turn your neck to look in your blind spot, and overall slower reflexes could spell trouble when needing to make a quick reaction on the road.
Signs it Might be Time to Quit Driving
There are a few things to look for that can help you determine if it’s time to give up your license, or if you need to have a talk with a loved one.
· Other drivers honk at you.
· There are unexplained dings or scrapes on the car.
· You have trouble staying in your lane.
· You’re scared or nervous to drive.
· You miss traffic signs and signals.
· Other people are scared to ride with you.
Resources to Ease the Transition
Giving up a driver’s license isn’t easy, but when it has to happen it’s to keep you and others safe. It might help to give up your license but keep your car if you can afford to. That way you have the option to let someone else drive you around, and it might be less traumatic than having to give everything up all at once.
Thanks to Uber and Lyft, there are more options than ever for finding rides to places like the grocery store or restaurants. You can take public transportation, riding the bus through the Winston-Salem Transit Authority (WSTA), or look at the options available for seniors such as
the WSTA Trans-AID for non-emergency rides. There are a number of local options available either by volunteers or publicly funded assistance on the Senior Services transportation resources page.
We Can Help
Piedmont Home Care is another option to help when you are no longer are able to drive. Our caregivers are equipped to provide respite care or assistance with daily tasks, and for some clients that might include going to the doctor or getting out of the house to meet friends.
If you no longer feel safe driving, or you have a loved one who you need to talk with about giving up their driver’s license, call our professionals at Piedmont Home Care today for help with how to make it through this hurdle. We have helped many people transition out of driving while still maintaining a strong sense of self and keeping up social connections.