Changes Due to Aging

Discussion about driving retirement usually begins as a result of an accident.  Changes in aging may impact driving…
Vision changes include the retina receiving 1/3 of the light it once did which can make night vision more difficult.  Glaucoma, cataracts and maculardegeneration can also make seeing more challenging if not Trafficcrash_zps34b3a4f9impossible.  Peripheral vision may shrink resulting in limited sight.  Vision should be checked annually to stay on top of any impending changes….
Body stiffness can play a part as well.  Neck stiffness may inhibit turning to see what traffic is alongside the car.  Long car rides are especially difficult for older drivers.  They should plan into their itinerary frequent stops to get out and walk around.  Long flights may necessitate taking a low dose aspirin regimen for a week before the trip and 2 weeks following.  Talk to your doctor about any upcoming long trips.
Medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart conditions can impact a person’s ability to process what they are seeing and react appropriately.  They can become confused; have bleary vision and the medications they are taking can also impair their responses.
Dementia has been determined to be in process for up to 20 years.  It will hamper visual and spatial awareness and cause persons to get lost in familiar territory.  They visually and mentally process slower and are often confused.  If they are in a sundown situation, their mental abilities to cope shut down.  They are more likely to have frequent accidents.  Anyone with dementia diagnosis should be tested by a qualified professional every 3 months to determine if they should continue driving.

Strategies for Discussing Driving Retirement

Have a discussion with your parents ahead of time.  Ask them:
  1. Who will they trust to tell them when they should not be driving any longer?
  2. What trips do they need to make weekly?
  3. Complete the ARMT (Assessment of Readiness for Mobility Transition)**
  4. Investigate alternatives together on how these trips can be made so as to protect their autonomy and independence.
  5. Craft a plan.
** The ARMT was created by Dr. Tom Meuser and Dr. Marla Berg as a result of a grant through the Missouri Foundation for Health.  They took statements made by seniors and crafted an assessment tool to determine the strength of emotions and readiness to stop driving.  It is an insightful tool which helps to identify the person’s fears when it comes to driving.444

Transportation Alternatives

Here are common resources for transportation. The Area Agency on Aging will have a list of transport companies in your community.
Community government
Senior facilities
Friends & Family
Home Health Agencies often provide transportation
Medical facilities sometimes provide transportation to appointments
Hired driver
Non-profit transportation
Adult Day Centers often provide transportation
Non-emergency transport services