Just about every parent has heard the words, “Mom, Dad, can I have the car keys?!” Cars and driving are a means of independence, and while parents often hand over the keys with trepidation to their teenagers, they know that it is a rite of passage and an important step in growing up. This is precisely why “Mom, Dad, can I have the car keys?” becomes such a difficult thing for family members to ask of elderly loved ones.

Safety Behind the Wheel

There is no set age when a person is no longer safe behind the wheel and many people can drive safely well into old age. But some underlying medical conditions or medications may cause driving issues. According to AARP Driver Safety, most people want to continue driving for as long as possible, but for many a time will come when they must limit or stop driving, either temporarily or permanently, for their own safety and the safety of others.

Look for the Warning Signs

Does your loved one have difficulty concentrating while driving? Have you noticed frequent close calls, misjudgments or slower than necessary responses in unexpected situations? Or, are they getting lost, especially in familiar locations, or having trouble seeing signals and road signs? If so, it may be time for your loved one to suspend driving.

If you’ve noticed that a senior’s driving has grown inconsistent and careless, you can be most helpful by voicing concerns and starting a caring conversation. Sometimes there are tangible things to help bring up the topic: “How are you doing with your driving? I noticed there are a lot of dents and scrapes on the car lately…” Or, if you know they’ve received a warning from a police officer you may want to ask about it by saying, “Are you finding driving a little difficult to manage?” The key is, it’s important not to wait – because impaired driving can be a matter of life and death.

Put Yourself in the Driver’s Seat

While taking the keys away may be a necessary step, try and see things from the driver’s vantage point. Giving up driving may be another reminder for loved ones of their growing loss of independence and their inability to take care of themselves. Giving up the car keys affects their daily life including where they go, who they see and where they live.

It is a difficult realization that the risks of continuing to drive outweigh the benefits. Helping a senior to imagine a future without a car requires understanding and support. Help out when you can and explore other transportation options including local senior transportation options, carpools or car services so that life without a car is not a recipe for isolation and boredom.

If your loved ones is looking for transportation for medical appointments or would like to attend  a simcha  within Somerset and Middlesex counties please contact Wilf Transport at 732-649-3502 for all inquiries.

The Oscar and Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living is comprised of Stein Assisted Living, Jaffa Gate Memory Care Neighborhood, Stein Hospice, Wilentz Senior Residence, Wilf Transport, and The Foundation at the Wilf Campus. For more information, contact us at (732) 568-1155, info@wilfcampus.org or visit us at www.wilfcampus.org.