It is never a good day when you come to the conclusion that your elderly parents are no longer able to drive safely, but your primary consideration is their safety, so you know that it is probably time to take those car keys away. Parental protection isn’t a fun job, but sometimes you just have to do it.
It is perfectly understandable that you might have feelings of guilt and uncertainty about your actions but we only take a decision like this out of love for our parents. You can either use someone like AutoLocks to help you with your task of taking control of their access to a car or simply confront the situation head on and ask them to hand over the keys, if they reluctantly agree with your compassionate decision.
Age is not the only factor
It should be stressed that there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration when considering your elderly parents suitability to continue driving their car.
Their age alone, should never be a reason on its own for taking away their car keys. There are plenty of people who are more than capable of driving safely into their 80’s and even sometimes into their 90’s, and they will have to prove their health isn’t an issue anyway, in order to renew their licence after they turn 70.
Physical and mental health
Important factors that need to be considered are the current physical and mental capabilities of your elderly parents.
As we age, our vision can be expected to deteriorate and issues such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and even cataracts can all be detrimental to their driving ability unless they have had remedial surgery or a recent eye examination to confirm whether their level of vision is safe enough to be able to continue driving.
The act of driving a vehicle is actually more physical than we sometimes consider and although we might take it for granted, an elderly driver might struggle to achieve the dexterity, ability and strength required in their arms and legs, to control the car safely.
Offer to go for a drive with your parents to see how they handle the car first-hand and see if they still have the level of physical ability and agility required to drive safely.
Loss of hearing
It can be dangerous if you are unable to hear important warning sounds while you are driving, so hearing loss can be a concern and adversely affect their ability to drive safely.
Dementia and any sort of brain impairment can make it extremely dangerous for an elderly person to continue driving.
They can experience frustration and an inability to navigate successfully if someone is suffering from a condition like dementia, and delayed reactions combined with confusion are a dangerous mix when you are on the road and behind a wheel.
Not that many of us enjoy a confrontation with a loved one and having the conversation about handing in the keys and giving up on driving is never something we look forward to but parental protection and elderly care is important.
Try to be empathetic and keep the conversation in a non-accusatory tone, focusing on how you don’t want them to hurt themselves or others on the road, which could happen if they continue to drive.
Protecting your elderly parents from danger is one of life’s challenges and persuading them to relinquish their car keys is something that just has to be done, when the time is right.