Gary's Guidance: Going, Going, Gone Are the Days of Driving

June 2015

This edition is the sequel from the last Gary’s Guidance, To Drive or Not to Drive.  For seniors still driving a car after decades the prospect of losing the right to drive is one of the greatest threats of losing independence.  Suggestions for promoting safe driving and how to stop older adults from driving follows:

  • Wear seat belts and avoid driving under the influence of alcohol or sedating medications, and check with your doctor/pharmacist about drug interactions
  • Drive when conditions are safest, avoid driving during bad weather, and at night
  • Complete annual vision, hearing, and cognitive evaluations
  • Complete a safe driving course which can reduce insurance rates
  • Follow doctor’s recommendations for exercising regularly to improve flexibility and strength
  • Plan routes before you drive and stick to the safest routes familiar to you
  • Avoid distractions such as talking on the cell phone, changing radio stations, eating, and turning your head towards passengers while talking
  • Find alternatives to driving by riding with someone else or reduce your need to drive by reducing driving from daily trips to weekly

Stopping driving:

  • Family members can start conversations by using facts about stopping driving (reference: The Hartford, (We Need to Talk…Family Conversations with Older Drivers)
  • Consult a physician who can write a prescription to stop driving
  • Complete a driving evaluation from a program with a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist such as an occupational therapist
  • Hire a geriatric care manager who has experience with preventing an older adult from driving
  • Disable the vehicle or take the keys away as the last resort

There is no easy solution or perfect way, but initiate discussions early, and base decisions on observed driving behavior.  Engage third parties such as licensed social workers, occupational therapists, and doctors for support.

Gary Kozick, LCSW