There are a number of reasons why a person should be regularly evaluated as a driver as they get older. As we age, we naturally see a decrease in some of our abilities. That is to say that vision can decline, hearing loss is commonly reported, mobility and flexibility are altered, and an elderly relative is more likely to be on medications that can impact the ability to navigate roads. There is also a great deal of concern regarding drivers suffering from the early stages of dementia.
It can be a very difficult decision to make – to determine that it is time for a loved one to stop driving. It can be even more challenging to talk to an elderly relative about his or her impairments.
There are a number of warning signs that might suggest that a person has reached the point where driving has become dangerous.
Forgetfulness. There are some memory troubles that are not overly concerning. After all, from a very early age, it is common for a person to walk into a room and forget what it was he or she meant to do there. Our lives are busy and, at times, things slip our mind. However, when the forgetfulness becomes more severe, includes the inability to perform common household tasks without assistance, or involves asking the same question multiple times over a short span of time, then it might be time to re-evaluate how safe the person would be behind the wheel of a car.
Obvious Hearing Trouble. When hearing aids and other medical treatments are not resolving the problem, and a person has difficulty participating in conversations at normal volumes, then driving can be a major risk. A person must be able to hear oncoming sirens, horns honking, and other such signals when operating a vehicle.
Deteriorating Vision Diagnosis. If a visit to the St. Petersburg ophthalmologist reveals an eye condition that will mean the continued deterioration of a person’s vision, driving can become a danger. Though a person can continue to drive for months or years after a glaucoma or macular degeneration diagnosis, regular evaluations should be performed to ensure the task remains a safe option.
Though it can be a difficult conversation to have, saving the life of your loved one – and other innocent people who share the roadways – is more important than avoiding possible embarrassment or frustration. The damage that can be done by someone ill-equipped to drive can be very costly. Medical care and repair bills can quickly mount, which might mean an unwanted visit with a personal injury attorney. If your loved one is negligent in an accident, or the courts rule that he or she was known to be an unsafe driver, he or she could be brought to trial and forced to pay large sums to victims of that incident. That is only a small piece of the trouble that can be faced. After all, far too many accidents end with fatalities. That is not something that you, or your loved one, wants to live with.
There are support systems that can be relied upon to make this task easier. Speak to his or her physician before having the talk with your loved one. The message may be better received from a medical professional. And, remember, there are other forms of transportation in and around Saint Petersburg that may be more viable options for your loved one. Giving up the keys doesn’t have to mean a complete loss of freedom.