Gilroy Today 2012 12 Winter - Page 38

{ } T aking driving privileges from a teenager is tough but not as heart-wrenching as taking the same privileges from the parent who Should you help them stay on the road?? By Dorie U. Sugay Dorie Sugay is the Executive Director of Visiting Angels, a company that provides living-assistance services to seniors and adults-in-need who wish to stay in their own home or receive oneon-one care within a facility. 38 AGING with an Attitude This article is for informational and educational purposes only. It was written independent of Visiting Angels. G I L R O Y T O D A Y W I N T E R / H O L I D A Y 2 0 1 2 raised you. Some adults are able to drive through their later years. But others are no longer safe on the road. When you visit for the holidays, take the time to assess how Mom and/or Dad are doing. You want to look for ways to help them be able to continue to drive safely, rather than look for ways to take the keys away. This approach will help you get their cooperation later, if you do need to ask them to give up driving! Take a walk around the car, check out the entrance to the garage, the bush on the curb, and even the garbage can. Have them take you on a tour of their area, taking their usual routes – you will learn a lot. Here are other things to make a note of: • Have they received a warning from the police for poor driving behavior? They won’t necessarily tell you but you should ask about a citation. • Are there signs of close calls, minor collisions - dents or scratches on the car? Does the garbage can look abused? How is the entrance to the garage? Why did they have the bush by the curb removed? Is it because they can’t control the car, or is Mom driving Dad’s car and it is too big? • When you drive with them – are they relaxed and confident? (When you are confident, it does not matter who is with you, so don’t let them convince you they are nervous because you are there. But do emulate their life as well as you can – don’t have screaming kids in the back seat). • Does driving tire them out? If so – why? It is best to avoid times when people are going to/from work or dropping/picking up kids at school. • Does Mom or Dad get disoriented easily? • How is his/her ability to react to an unexpected challenge? Especially in the winter months when the roads are moist, this could be a big issue. Just because they drive 4 blocks to the store does not mean they won’t run into crazy drivers. • Does he/she have difficulty dealing with glaring objects? (street lights, headlights, etc). Choosing driving times can solve this issue. • How are they when they change lanes? If they have difficulty looking over their shoulder or turning their head side to side, that means they are not at 100% capacity. • How well can they see street signs, curbs, people/objects on or around the road? (if they get easily distracted, is the solution as simple as turning the radio off?) • How well does he/she navigate and deal with obstacles and distractions? • Do speeding cars frighten or distract them? • Do other drivers tailgate or pass them all the time? Are they able to stay calm when this happens or do the noise and speed rattle them? Remember, sometimes very slow driving can cause accidents. • How is their hand/foot coordination? • If your loved one takes medications for a prior stroke, ALS, dementia, epilepsy, MS, Parkinson’s disease, seizure or sleep disorders, or uncontrolled diabetes - these could affect driving ability. • Was his/her license checked at age 70? There have been times that people who should no longer drive pass the test – if you have good reason to believe your parent should no longer drive, you can talk to the DMV about it confidentially. A note from their physician helps. According to a the Highway Patrol, usually it is best for someone in their 70s to be checked at least every 3 years, and after 80, to be checked every year. When you assess if it is time to have “that talk”, you might first talk to their physician. But be warned - they may find that a breech of their privacy if you share your concerns with their doctor without their knowledge. It is a blessed rarity when