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What are some signs that an elderly person can no longer drive?

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2024 | Elder Law |

As loved ones age, it is important to ensure their safety, especially when it comes to driving. While independence is a huge part of life, there may come a time when elderly individuals can no longer safely operate a vehicle. Some older people struggling with daily tasks may even need the assistance of a conservator.

Recognizing the signs that indicate it is time to limit their driving can protect their well-being.

Decreased vision

One of the most significant indicators that an elderly person may no longer be fit to drive is a decline in vision. Vision problems such as cataracts, glaucoma or macular degeneration can impair depth perception, peripheral vision and the ability to see road signs clearly. An elderly loved one could struggle to read signs, see in low light or have frequent near misses for accidents.

Slower reaction time

Another sign that an elderly person may no longer be safe behind the wheel is a decrease in reaction time. Aging can lead to slower reflexes, making it challenging to respond quickly to unexpected situations on the road, such as sudden stops or pedestrians crossing. A loved one may consistently react slowly to traffic signals or hesitate at intersections.

Difficulty with mobility

Physical limitations, such as arthritis or muscle weakness, make it difficult for elderly individuals to operate a vehicle safely. Problems with gripping the steering wheel, turning to check blind spots or pressing the pedals can compromise their ability to control the car effectively.

Increased forgetfulness

Forgetfulness and confusion can pose significant risks while driving. Elderly individuals may forget familiar routes, miss exits or become disoriented while behind the wheel. Additionally, dementia-related conditions can impair judgment and decision-making, further compromising driving ability.

Giving up driving is often a difficult transition for elderly individuals. Open and honest communication can make this transition smoother for everyone involved, including any conservators.