When is Driving Too Dangerous?
I understand this is a very tough topic, especially if you are consulting this blog to help care for parents or friends in home health or therapy. Unfortunately, this topic usually does not get addressed until after an accident occurs, which is the worst possible outcome.
Just because one has home health care, therapy or nurse house calls, it definitely does mean that they are not capable to drive anymore. But, it is important to look at some of the affects of aging that can decrease ability to drive safely.
1. Eyesight: This is one of the most prominent and obvious problems when it comes to driving. Especially at night, the eyesight of an aging senior can be extremely diminished, disallowing them from seeing when oncoming cars make it dangerous to turn or even the words on street signs. Unfortunately, there isn’t much home health nurses or therapy sessions can help, it may take a trip to the eye doctor for bifocals or a choice to stop driving at all.
2. Hearing: This is another major aspect that could affect one’s ability to drive. If your friend or loved one can’t hear another car’s horn or the sound of a multi-car crash happening around a corner, they could be in a bad situation. In this case, there is only so much a hearing aide can do. A nurse or a doctor can assess the level of hearing loss and whether it is safe to operate a car.
3. Response: As people get older, their response time diminishes. Their ability to see a situation, quickly process information and communicate with their hands to make a change in the direction of the car doesn’t happen as quickly. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that home health and therapy can do to solve this problem. Decreased response time is an unavoidable consequence of aging.
4. Mental State: While this may not be a popular aspect to discuss, one’s ability to focus and process information decreases with age. Making rational decisions and judging distances may not be possible or as easy as it was in the past – making driving very dangerous for your loved one and those around them.
If you’re wondering if your friend or loved one can drive safely, the best thing to do is to ask your loved one’s nurse, therapy practitioner or home health nurse if they have the capability to operate a vehicle safely.