Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My parent is moving to a Senior Facility, is it time to take the car keys?

By Bob Gregory

Moving to a Senior Facility does not necessarily mean it is time to take away your parent’s car keys.  Most Assisted Living Facilities allow residents to own their own car and drive themselves if they are capable.  Is your elder parent capable of driving?  That is the better question to ask!  The right time for an elder parent, or anyone, to give up driving is when they are no longer capable of doing so safely.

Here are some signs and reasons that your elder parent may need to quit driving and give up the keys:

  1. Impaired vision—loss of peripheral vision or overall vision that cannot be satisfactorily corrected by glasses to meet the eye examine is a big indicator it is time to give up driving.  Also, poor night vision or sensitivity to bright sun light can also indicate your parent’s vision is not adequate to drive.
  1. Frequent at-fault accidents indicate your parent should not be driving.
    too old to drive
    too old to drive (Photo credit: jessleecuizon)
  1. Memory issues, such as dementia, should be a red flag to give up driving.  You do not want your parent driving if they may forget what they are doing or where they are going!
  1. Physical mobility impairment is another sign your parent may need to stop driving.  Their ability to make sharp turns or move quickly to the brake can be a hazard.
  1. Medication impairment cannot be overlooked—certain medications can cause drowsiness, blurred vision and slow reaction time.  Make sure you consult your parent’s physician and pharmacist about the effects of all your parent’s medications!
  1. Trouble with depth and distance perception can be a red flag that your parent should not drive.
  1. Erratic driving behavior certainly indicates your parent should not be driving!  This includes improper speeds (fast and slow), frequent and improper lane changes, failure to obey traffic signals and drifting in and out of lanes.
  1. Loss of hearing—this is another affect of aging we cannot escape, but if hearing cannot b
    BAMMM!!! (Photo credit: Ron,Ron,Ron)
    e corrected with hearing aids, then it might be a sign your parent shouldn’t be driving.
  1. Fear of driving is also a sign that should be taken seriously.  If you parent expresses fears or concerns about driving, they may be trying to tell you the car needs to go!
  1. Unexplained dents, scratches or bent rims can indicate your parent is having an issue driving.
The best way to assess your parent’s ability to drive is to simply take a ride with them.  This was my first indication that my own mother should not be driving!  Observe how they handle traffic flow, stopping and stopping, lane changing, turning and traffic signals.  Take note if they actually know where they are going or if they need directions.  Make sure you observe your parent in a parking lot looking for a parking space and then parking—this may explain those mysterious dents and scratches.  If you are comfortable riding in the car with your parent driving, then let them drive.  However, if you find your parent was reckless (you were scared for your life) it may be time to discuss taking the keys!  Remember, it is not just your parent you are protecting—it is the rest of us as well!

Having the “it’s time to give up driving” conversation is difficult and complicated.  There are some ideas and tips I will share with you along with some “legal” means, if necessary, but I’ll save that for a future writing.
If you find you need an Assisted Living Facility, Nursing Home or any other type of Senior Facility, I hope you will consider

If you would like to contribute your thoughts and ideas, please leave them in our comment section. We want to hear them. Helping people care for themselves or their loved ones is what we care about. 

We look forward to reading yours.

Bob Gregory is an advocate for Seniors and is one of the founders of At, we are dedicated to helping families get the Elder Care help they need without having to provide their personal information! If find you need an assisted living facility or other type of senior facility, please consider

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