How to talk about driving safety
Winter is a good time to talk about driving with the one you care for. Snow, ice and extreme weather can have an impact on driving conditions – and can be a cause for concern if you worry about declining vision or driving skills. Even if snow and ice aren’t an issue in your area, keep communication open to figure out what works best for everyone’s safety. Here are some tips to consider.
Making sure the car is serviced regularly can help keep problems at bay. Also, watching for signs of driving problems is important. Things like driving too slow or too quickly, getting lost or agitated, dents in the car, accidents or close calls are all signs that driving skills could be on the decline.
Make sure that both you and your loved one understand any effects that medications may have on their driving. Look for warnings on medicine labels and make a list of every medicine he or she takes. The Caregiver toolkit includes a medications tracker to help keep you organized. That way, you and the one you care for can have a list to reference when talking with a doctor or pharmacist about how different medicines may affect driving.
Taking time to have a conversation about driving is important. This gives your loved one a chance to bring up any concerns they have, as well as discuss options you can pursue to maximize safety. You may want to suggest a driving refresher course (organizations like the AARP, AAA and commercial driving schools offer them). When suggesting the evaluation or class, it helps to communicate that you trust their judgment and want them to be safe. No matter the outcome of the evaluation, you can decide together what works best to ensure their safety.
Bad weather, dawn and dusk can be dangerous for all drivers – so it’s important to know what makes driving harder for your loved one. If you set limits, make sure to be consistent. You may ask that he or she not drive at night or that they can only drive to and from certain locations. If you truly feel like his or her driving is a safety concern, do not be afraid to take away their keys.
There are many different transportation options to consider. Hospitals and senior centers often offer transportation to appointments, events and more. You’ll want to check your friend or loved one’s health plan to see if there are options to help. Public transportation and car services may be options for him or her depending on your location.