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Steps to help a senior stop driving | Guest Column
As a person ages, it is normal for driving abilities to become impaired. By reducing risk factors and instilling safe driving practices, many individuals may continue to be behind the wheel safely well into the senior years. However, it is important to pay attention to warning signs that age may be impacting driving ability and make the appropriate adjustments as needed.
If you are concerned about a senior driver and have seen the warning signs that it may be time to give up the keys, there are steps that can be taken to make the transition easier. Remember, driving means independence for most, and the tact taken to help a senior stop driving must be gentle. Here are some steps to help:
1. Create a workable transportation plan. Before dropping the ball on your loved one’s inability to drive, have a transportation plan in place, complete with the names and phone numbers of family members, friends and those who are willing to give rides. Be sure to let your loved one know that they do not have to give up their social activities, but may need to rely on others for help.
2. Show your support. When your senior learns of their inability to drive, they may have a lot of questions. Be available to listen and offer support, and let them know that you are there for them.
3. Have a physician or authority figure speak to the senior. If the senior does not want to listen to friends and family, have the physician, pastor or authority figure speak to your loved one. The encouragement and reassurance from an outsider can offer a new perspective on the situation.
4. Contact the insurance company. If your loved one is stubborn in their need for independent transportation, you can reach out to Medicare or the automobile insurance company for help. The insurance companies may assess the driver’s record and age and submit a request for a driving evaluation. Your senior will need to comply if they want to continue receiving benefits and coverage.
5. Report anonymously to the Department of Motor Vehicles. While this tactic may seem sneaky, if you are truly concerned for your loved one’s life and other people’s safety, you may need to pick up the phone and get the help you need. When you speak with department it is appropriate to remain anonymous and report the unsafe driver. The department should contact the individual and have him or her complete a driving evaluation to ensure that they are a safe driver. Precautions will be taken following the driving exam.
Sandra Cook is the marketing director at Aegis Lodge assisted living and memory care in Kirkland. Contact her at (425) 814-2841.