Friday, March 12, 2010

Help for older drivers to decide if they should give up driving

Sooner or later every family confronts the issue of whether mom or dad should continue driving. It's an emotion-packed time for the entire family.

From the perspective of the senior member of the family, it's a question of their freedom being taken away. After all, mom wonders, how am I supposed to get to the grocery store or the beauty shop if I can't drive? I don't want to have to wait for the kids to come pick me up - and they're busy anyway and don't have time for my trips.

From the perspective of the younger family members, its a question of safety both for mom or dad and for the general public. Mom doesn't see as well as she used to. Dad thinks he still has the reaction time of a cat - but he doesn't - not even close. I'm afraid my mom or dad will not see that other car - or that traffic light - in time and injure or kill themselves or others. It's just a horrible thought. But, then again, I don't want to take dad's keys away from him because he would feel bad having to call me to go to the golf course to talk to his buddies. And besides, how do I know that it's time for him to stop driving?

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has developed a website with a number of tools to help seniors and their families evaluate whether mom and dad should hand over their keys. The evaluations on their site are completely confidential so your family can have the conversation without unduly embarrassing anyone in either generation.