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Nova Scotia Seniors – The Car Conversation

Posted Jun 13, 2016

SeniorDriverHandsEEK! “They’ll have to pry those keys from my cold dead hands!!!”.

This would be the most common response of most Halifax seniors when it comes time to have to this uncomfortable conversation. After all, driving represents freedom and independence…to come and go wherever they please.

It is important to understand that this lack of wheels can affect their health. They may less able to be social and take part in activities. If they live in a rural area, it certainly restricts their abilities to get groceries, visit the doctor or get out to Bingo once a week.

That being said, there comes a time when it becomes absolutely necessary to remove the keys for the safety of our loved ones and for anyone on the road with them.

Many seniors are fine drivers and then there are those who insist they are fine drivers when, clearly, they have become a danger. Dementia, eyesight, easily distracted, waning reflexes… whatever the reason, they need to be off the roads.

It is estimated that people make eight to 12 navigating decisions for every kilometre they drive. Even small age-related differences can affect your driving.

SeniorDriverReactions to being told that they can no longer drive vary from person to person. They can become indignant because they have been driving for 60 or 70 years or, in some cases, they accept it grudgingly but really knowing that it’s time.

As uncomfortable as this conversation may be, you don’t want to wait until it is too late to have the conversation.

 

Here are a few tips that may help make the conversation go as smooth as possible:

  1. Be sensitive and respectful to their situation. This may come as a huge loss for someone who has been driving for many years.
  2. Consult with a doctor. A doctor should  be able to provide an opinion about their ability to drive safely or not. Doctors can be a great support for families. Not able to see a doctor? There are a number of online assessment and evaluation tools that may be helpful as well.
  3. Give specific examples. It’s easier to tune out generalizations like “You just can’t drive safely anymore.” Outline concerns that you have noticed, such as “You have a harder time turning your head than you used to,” or “You braked suddenly at stop signs three times the last time we drove.”
  4. Have a plan for future travel and transportation needs. If you live in town or close enough to them, offer to take them for groceries and Bingo once a week (or to visit friends or to the pool) . It will also mean that you are visiting once a week(bonus!) or if you are not close by, hire someone to take them.

It is so important that our seniors maintain their current lifestyle as closely as possible. Soon there will be driverless cars that can take them wherever they want to go any time, although, if dementia is involved, they will still need an attendant to go with them to make sure they get home.

We at Always Home Homecare have witnessed family members go through this often and it can be very difficult. If needs be, get the doctor involved. They are required by law to report any illnesses or issues that affect driving to the Department of Motor Vehicles – then it is out of your hands and the decision is made for them.

Know that you are doing the right thing – Good Luck!