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Taking Your Aging Mom’s Car Keys: How to Steer the Conversation

An auto accident dumps enough problems on your life. But, if you are a senior citizen, its complexity grows when an accident triggers the dreaded question: Should you even be driving at your age?

And further, what determines whether you should or should not drive and who makes that determination?

What Determines if Your Aging Loved One Should Drive

According to experts, reports U.S. News & World Report, whether or not a senior citizen should continue driving should be determined by function – not necessarily age. Nuance can creep into these decisions.

For example, a senior’s personal decision to stop driving at night may be praiseworthy, but may also be a sign for concern. Or perhaps they’re not venturing out onto I-277 near downtown Charlotte during peak times when there are events at Bank of America Stadium, NASCAR Hall of Fame, or Spectrum Center. Or perhaps you notice that they begin to avoid certain busy and dangerous intersections like the following, which are rated the most dangerous in Charlotte:

  • Reagan Drive at Tom Hunter Road
  • John Kirk Drive at University City Boulevard
  • North Tryon Street at University Pointe Boulevard
  • East W.T. Harris Boulevard at North Tryon Street

The U.S. News article noted that doctors consider three areas that impact seniors’ driving abilities: vision, mobility, and thinking or cognition. Observing driving habits can help determine whether your aging loved one should consider giving up their driver’s license. Confusing the gas pedal for the brake is serious, for example, but riding the brake is perhaps less serious.

Perhaps you notice them driving too fast or too slow, struggling to change lanes. Their reaction time may be slower and they don’t seem to follow signals as they should. Hearing loss can cause some seniors to miss hearing horns and other sounds.

NC DMV Guidelines for Aging Drivers

The DMV will also help you determine whether your loved one may need to consider curbing their driving partially or fully. Remember that the process of aging impacts everyone differently and every state has its own rules. In North Carolina, licenses issued to adults 66 and older are valid for five years, according to the NC Department of Motor Vehicles.

In addition, the North Carolina DMV might not license an individual who suffers from a mental or physical condition that could keep them from driving safely. A person with a disability might be issued a restricted license, provided the condition does not keep them from driving safely.

If a DMV evaluation is needed, it can be recommended by a family member, police officer, or emergency medical technician. An authorized DMV officer would conduct the examination, which would include an interview and perhaps vision, written, and driving tests.

How to Talk With Your Mom or Dad About Giving Up Their License

As you consider whether your aging loved one should stop driving, think of how important your own independence is. But also keep in mind the safety of your loved one and that of others. It’s a tough decision.

Consider your own independence importance when considering if aging loved one should stop driving

To help dispel any defensive reaction, begin this conversation well before issues arise. Make it a casual conversation and use empathy and tact. Perhaps use the weather to slide into such a discussion by noting that heavy rain can be a bad time for driving – for anyone, not just seniors.

Have a plan in mind that includes perhaps keeping the senior behind the wheel but in a limited capacity like driving only during the day and only to familiar places. Engage a local senior center or council on aging. These facilities are typically equipped to help with rides and to help caregivers deal with the question of whether seniors should stop driving.

Also important is for family members, friends, and caregivers to remember that a senior’s ceasing to drive could result in additional responsibilities for them, like providing rides for the senior and spending more time with them. Help set up these alternatives for them.

Click here for more ways to try to help your loved one keep their freedom and independence even without their car.

To find transportation services in your area call 1-800-677-1116 or click on the links below to visit:

The four most dangerous road intersections in Charlotte

NC Car Wreck Lawyers Offer Free Case Evaluation

We are lawyers, but we are also sons and daughters of aging parents too. If your aging loved one has been injured in a car crash that is not their fault, contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation. We’ll try to see to it that your loved one gets the maximum compensation they are potentially entitled to.