In Canada, over 3.5 million drivers are over the age of 65. Elderly drivers cause a disproportionately higher number of traffic accidents in Canada. Seniors stop driving will help avoid traffic accidents.
Although age itself does not make a difference, and it is possible for people even in their 90s to drive, age can impact cognition and can cause many illnesses which can make it difficult to drive.
Many seniors are reluctant to give up driving. It can be life-changing, and they fear the loss of independence. It can be difficult for families to convince their loved ones to give up driving, which can put their own and others’ safety at risk. Insurance for seniors is expensive, and in case of an accident, they can be sued personally if it is established that they were driving despite not being in a condition to do so.
Requirements for Seniors to Renew a Driving License
Administering driving licenses in Canada is up to the provinces and many have restrictions in place for seniors to renew their licenses. For example, in Ontario, these include but are not limited to:
- Seniors over 80 must renew their licences every 2 years.
- Seniors must attend classes on driving rules before license renewal.
- Seniors may undergo additional testing.
- In some cases, seniors may have to retake the driving test and submit medical information.
Conditions that can Impact a Senior’s Ability to Drive
The most important factor to take into consideration, when deciding when seniors should stop driving, is their overall mental and physical health.
Some indications include:
- Vision Loss: A senior with very weak eyesight might miscalculate the distance between vehicles or to an obstacle.
- Diminished hearing: A senior with hearing loss might be unable to hear the horns, sirens or large vehicles on the road.
- Slow Reflexes: With age, reflexes slow down and a senior with slow reflexes may not be able to make the split-second decisions needed to avoid accidents.
- Coordination Issues: Hand and feet coordination is critical for driving. In seniors, it might weaken which can cause an accident.
In addition, many diseases related to aging can lead to conditions, which can impact the ability to drive. For example :
- Glaucoma: A condition that damages the optic nerve
- Dementia: A disease that affects cognitive functions.
- Alzheimer’s disease: A brain disorder that affects memory and thinking skills
- Parkinson’s disease: A disorder that causes shaking, stiffness, issues with balance, and coordination
- Cataracts: A cloudy formation on the eye which impacts vision
- Arthritis: Joint pain with stiffness, swelling and tenderness which slows down the movement
- Seizures: An electrical disturbance in the brain which is uncontrolled and can occur at any time
- Diabetes: A chronic long-lasting which affects how the body transforms food into energy
Signs that it is Time for a Senior to Give Up Driving
Many seniors will refuse to acknowledge that it is dangerous for them to drive. Families and caregivers should be on the lookout for warning signs which are indicators of a loved ones’ inability to drive safely. These include:
- Failure to adhere to traffic signs or traffic lights (especially when asked to stop)
- Inability to recognize the right of way of another vehicle or a person
- Erratic driving speed or inability to change speeds as required
- Forgetting to signal when taking a turn or switching lanes
- Routinely becoming lost in familiar areas or regular routes
- Challenges with guessing distances between vehicles or objects
- Difficulty in changing the lanes or smoothly merging with traffic
- Frequent incidents which could have become accidents
- Increased road rage
- Stress and anxiety while driving
- Damage to the vehicle
- Increased traffic violations than normal
How to Have a Conversation with a Senior about Stopping Driving
Family conversations about seniors giving up their habits and routines, especially driving, are never easy.
The elderly will be concerned about their loss of freedom and independence when asked to do so.
Here are a few tips on how to have this conversation
- Be compassionate when having the discussion
- Make it a discussion instead of an ultimatum
- Stress on the safety aspect
- Have friends, grandchildren, neighbours and family members talk to them also
- Don’t push but be firm
- Involve the physician as it could help the senior come to terms with the need to stop driving more easily
- Be prepared to discuss alternatives to driving to put them at ease
A combination of love, firmness and concern will make it easier for your loved ones to come to terms with the reality that they need to quit driving.
Alternatives to Driving for Seniors
Although giving up driving can impact a senior’s quality of life and independence significantly, it is not the end of the world. There are much safer, and even better alternatives to the seniors getting behind the wheel.
- Taxis and buses: Public transportation can be a good alternative to driving if the senior can walk and do not have any cognitive conditions. Taxis can be a good option if they are unable to walk. Many transportation services cater specifically to seniors. Some are operated by nonprofits and volunteers and do not charge anything.
- Online Transport: Online taxi services like Uber are becoming increasingly popular with Seniors. Seniors can either order the transportation themselves, or their families or caregivers can do this on their behalf from their mobile phones.
- Family & Neighbors: Sometimes family members and neighbours can get together to help drive the senior to appointments and events.
- Driving caregivers: Many caregiving services providers offer caregivers who can also drive the seniors to doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping or social events. This can be a better option than Uber or taxi services as the caregiver can also accompany the senior, not just drop them off.
How can ConsidraCare Caregivers help seniors stop driving?
Many of ConsidraCare’s caregivers have valid driving licenses. Some also have their cars.
We can match such caregivers with clients if needed. For driving caregivers, we also check the validity of their driving license, insurance and inspect the vehicles to make sure that they are safe and in working conditions.
As an alternative to driving, our caregivers can also arrange transportation such as taxis, Uber or senior transportation services for seniors and accompany them to their appointments. This helps seniors stop driving and get into accidents.
Age-related conditions can make it difficult and even dangerous for seniors to drive. However, giving up driving can be traumatic for seniors. Families need to watch out for the signs which indicate it is time for a loved one to stop driving. Families must educate themselves about alternatives to driving for seniors which do not compromise their independence and approach the conversation for them to stop driving with care and compassion. Caregivers can play an important role by driving or accompanying seniors on alternative forms of transportation.
Want to Learn More?
Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 1-855-410-7971, and we will be happy to understand and help you with the care needs of a loved one.