When should elderly people stop driving?

Anyone with elderly parents or grandparents knows that this is an extremely sensitive and difficult issue to face. However, as people age and their vision and reaction time get worse, they could become hazards on the roadways, to themselves and others.

While it is widely accepted that age alone should not result in a driver losing his or her license, research shows that the risk of having an accident begins to increase when people reach the age of 65, and the risk of dying in a motor vehicle accident increases upon reaching 80.

At the same time, older drivers are known for being some of the safest on the roadways. They often follow the speed limit, refrain from drinking and driving, drive more during the day than at night, and wear seatbelts.

So how do you know when your loved one should turn over his or her car keys for good? Three red flags to watch for include:

  • Vision problems
  • Hearing problems
  • Slow reaction time

Vision, hearing and reaction time all contribute to safe driving, and they can all be impaired by old age, medical conditions, and/or medications. If you know that your elderly loved one is dealing with any of these issues, then it might be time to help him or her determine if it is still safe to drive.

Other signs that it may be time to start relying on other types of transportation include:

  • She is reluctant or scared to drive
  • His vehicle is damaged from an accident
  • She has received traffic tickets

One way to assess whether your loved one is still able to drive safely is by driving with him or her and observing for yourself. You could also talk to friends or neighbors, who might provide insight.

Talking to a loved one about no longer driving should be handled delicately as it can feel like a major loss of freedom for the elderly driver. Check out this article from Caring.com for advice on having the conversation in a supportive and loving way.

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