Did this title get your attention? It should. It is never easy to tell any loved one it is time to stop driving, but the numbers in a new Caring.com study show why it is crucial to have that conversation before it is too late. Once someone starts to show declined abilities with everyday activities, odds are their driving is suffering as well. The affected driver poses a danger to themselves and to others. And, families could be liable for any damages, injuries, or deaths.
So, why won't you take the keys away? I asked that question to my Facebook friends and followers and most responses fell within these few answers:
- Still scared of their parents
- Think it is too mean to take away someone's independence no matter what the danger
- Makes the responsible adult too sad to do it
- No one has time to drive that loved one around and take on the responsibility so denial plays a huge part
My desperate need to mitigate the free-fall decline of my dad's independence and the ravaging insult of old age trumped basic common sense and my obligation to protect him and others. - from Facebook
Then there are the equally responsible state departments overseeing driver's license renewals. This was another common response to that Facebook query:
My grandmother was 75 and had cataracts. She failed the eye test with her glasses on. The clerk said as long as she promised to wear her glasses, she'd go ahead and pass her and she could keep driving.
It's never easy to take away keys and driving privileges. We told my mom that my brother needed to borrow the car and I offered to drive her, telling her, "I'll move you closer to me and then I can come get you every day." That worked not only for taking the car but also for moving her into assisted living.
Many seniors think they'll lose their independence if they stop driving, so it's important for loved ones to investigate alternatives like ride-sharing services and public transportation. Also, having family members, friends and neighbors when possible offer rides or even setting up a schedule goes a long way towards alleviating any fears of having the keys taken away.
Here are a few other ideas and comments from that Facebook post:
One day I said "Dad can I borrow your car?" I never gave it back but took him or mom anywhere they wanted to go.
I drove my mom to the new assisted living facility she was moving into. I pulled the car to the edge of the parking lot and said, "If you can find your way back to your old house, you can keep the car here". We sold the car a week later.
Once we began talking about it and I mentioned how much she could get for her car, and then would have money to gamble in Louisiana, she became interested in selling her car, and we did.
Her adjustment to the new home took all of four days. There was never any loneliness or isolation because every time she opened her door, she walked out into the middle of 300 new friends.
We contracted with a local taxi service.
I spent a few days with my mom and got to know her neighbors. I then secretly paid a few of them to drive her around.
Cocoa Beach at sunset makes Mad Max look like a Disney movie.
So, what did that Caring.com study say? Rhode Island is the most dangerous state for drivers age 65 and older, followed by Maine, Minnesota, New York and Idaho. And the safest states? New Mexico was deemed the least dangerous state for older drivers. North Dakota, Louisiana, Alaska, Montana, Mississippi, and South Carolina are the only other states where seniors accounted for fewer car-related fatalities than their share of the population projected.
Dayna Steele is Caring.com's Chief Caring Expert and the author of Surviving Alzheimer's with Friends, Facebook and a Really Big Glass of Wine. She is also the creator of the 101 Ways to Rock Your World book series and a popular business speaker. Find our more about Dayna here.