How to help elderly drivers limit or stop driving
Published 10:44 am Friday, February 17, 2012
Like many elderly seniors, your dad may not even realize his driving skills have slipped. If this is the case, consider signing him up for an older driver refresher course through AARP (aarp.org/drive, 888-227-7669), your local AAA or a driving school.
By becoming aware of his driving limitations, your dad may be able to make some simple adjustments – like driving only in daylight or on familiar routes – that can help keep him safe and driving longer. Or, he may decide to hang up the keys on his own.
Refuses to quit
If, however, you believe your dad has reached the point that he can no longer drive safely, but he refuses to quit, you have several options. One possible solution is to suggest a visit to his doctor who can give him a medical evaluation, and if warranted, “prescribe” that he stops driving. Older people will often listen to their doctor before they will listen to their own family.
If that doesn’t do it, ask him to get a comprehensive driving evaluation done by a driver rehabilitation specialist – this can cost several hundred dollars. A driving evaluation will test your dad’s cognition, vision and motor skills, as well as his on-road driving abilities. To locate a specialist in your area, contact the Association of Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (driver-ed.org, 866-672-9466) or the American Occupational Therapy Association (aota.org/older-driver).
If he still refuses to move to the passenger seat, call your local Department of Motor Vehicles to see if they can help. Or, call in an attorney to discuss with your dad the potential financial and legal consequences of a crash or injury. If all else fails, you may just have to take away his keys.
Once your dad stops driving he’s going to need other ways to get around, so help him create a list of names and phone numbers of family, friends and local transportation services that he can call on. To locate community transportation services call the Area Agency on Aging. Call 800-677-1116 for contact information.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.