In 20 years, the number of drivers aged 65 or older increased by 68%. In 2020, almost 200,000 older drivers were involved in crashes that required a trip to the hospital. Changes in vision, mental function, and flexibility can all increase the risk of a crash.
Sometimes, an older adult needs to stop driving for safety reasons. Dementia, severe arthritis, medication side effects, and vision loss are all reasons your mom may need to let someone else drive. When it’s time to take away your mom’s keys, what is the best approach?
Ask an Expert’s Opinion
Before you even discuss your mom’s need to hand over the keys, ask your mom’s doctors for their insight. Her eye doctor will know if her vision is likely to impair her safety while driving. If she has dementia, her doctor will tell you when it’s time for her to stop driving.
If arthritis is keeping her from being able to turn far enough to check her blind spots, she might be able to work with a physical therapist and regain some flexibility and keep driving. Or, she may be ready to let you and other family members handle the driving.
You can ask the DMV to request your mom go in for another driving test. While it’s not a legal requirement, if you feel your mom’s driving is unsafe, some states allow you to discreetly let the DMV know and they’ll assess her skills. That removes you as being the villain trying to take away her keys. The blame now lies on someone else.
If it’s time for her to stop driving, you need to be honest with your mom. She won’t be happy. But, it’s important for her safety and for the safety of others. She has to have seen stores of older drivers accidentally driving into buildings or causing serious traffic accidents. That’s why it’s important to give up the keys when her ability to drive is impacted.
Bring in Support
You might want to have your mom’s trusted friends or religious officials join in on the conversation regarding her safety. She might not want to hear it from you, but she can’t ignore a friend’s or pastor’s advice.
You don’t have to be the only person advocating for your mom to stop driving. Have your siblings join you, but make sure you’re not ganging up on her. Give her space if she’s becoming angry.
Make Sure She’s Able to Still Go Out
You might be pleasantly surprised that she doesn’t care. She just wants assurance that she can still leave her home, run errands, and not be isolated.
Home care advisors can help you schedule the services your mom needs the most. With home care aides assisting with transportation, your mom doesn’t have to feel stuck at home or isolated.