Discussing an Elderly Parent's Ability to Drive a Car

Senior Driving: Is It Time for Mom to Give Up the Car Keys?

Discussing an Elderly Parent's Ability to Drive a CarIt is among the more difficult decisions we face in later years, and a very sensitive subject for adult children to broach with their elder parents: surrendering the car keys. Driving ourselves, while offering an intrinsic sense of freedom and independence, may become extremely unsafe due to a variety of variables pertaining to growing older. And giving up that independence for safety’s sake can feel defeating.

Besides this, we must now take into consideration the recent studies that giving up driving may result in both mental and physical decline. This determination leads to a vicious circle of decreasing health leading to the need to stop driving, leading to further health decline due to greater solitude, depression, and less physical activity.

The study, published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, discovered that seniors who surrendered their driving rights ended up being twice as prone to go through intensifying depression, less physical functioning, and greater decline in cognitive abilities. And even more concerning, those who stopped senior driving were more likely to die during the following 3-5 year period.

Senior researcher for the study and founding director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University Medical Center, Dr. Guohua Li, points out, “This is a very complex issue. It’s a sensitive balance, and the pros and cons of not driving need to be weighed on a case-by-case basis.”

In some circumstances, restricting driving during some conditions can help ease the transition into relinquishing the keys altogether. The senior’s physician ought to be consulted first, of course, and with his or her approval, try reducing driving in the nighttime, in poor weather, and in busier traffic.

Dr. Marian Betz, spokesperson for the American Federation for Aging Research, stresses the need for older persons to remain involved in their community and to keep as mobile and socially engaged as possible. Members of the family are asked to seek out opportunities for their senior loved one to be involved in activities at a local senior center, exercise programs, volunteering, etc. 

All Care In Home Care Solutions provides a choice to consider: safe, reliable transportation and accompaniment services, allowing seniors the freedom to continue to come and go as they please, while not placing themselves or other individuals in harm’s way. We are aware of each senior’s preferred agenda in order to reach desired destinations, allowing the individual to remain in full control of when and where to go. Contact us at (541) 857-9195 to learn more.