How to Know when it is time to stop driving
For most of us driving is a necessity - especially when we live in rural communities where public transportation is not available.
Our seniors have expressed their angst is how they will get their weekly groceries, attend appointments or need to rely on others. It is another loss at the time of life when there may have been other losses and once again, they realize, they are losing their independence.
The prevailing question should always be, “am I jeopardizing my safety or someone else’s when I’m behind the wheel”? If the answer is yes, then it’s likely time to face the facts and stop driving.
Health conditions such as memory loss and Parkinson’s can affect a driver’s judgement and ability to react. Vision Impairment clouds the ability to see others on the road, or check the speedometer for speed. Impaired hearing undermines the ability to hear traffic noises such as screeching tires, trains, sirens and other driver horns. Medications may compromise the ability to drive through blurred vision, drowsiness or other side effects. Abusing alcohol is always a dangerous situation, however adding age into the equation is a disaster that is preventable.
Increased amounts of dings and scratches on the vehicle, are also good indicators that your depth perception is changing and complaints about night time driving and increased traffic tickets may be hints that closer observation is required.
There are benefits of not driving. Initially the emotions of losing the ability to drive may have one feeling the loss of independence. Feeling angry or frustrated are normal emotions but it is important to recognize that it takes a lot of courage to stop driving.
Saving on car insurance, gas, car ownership will outweigh the cost of taking a taxi or hiring someone to drive. Giving up your license may offer some health benefits as well. Walking when possible will also boost energy and help you sleep better.
Alternatives to driving exist in every community, whether it be calling a taxi, a good neighbour or a family member . Look into community transit provided by service clubs or a transportation service shared by Community Support agencies. Whatever the choice, knowing that you have made the decision yourself will make you feel better than having someone else make the decision for you, and you will arrive safely at your destination.
Contact Mark Bennett at Harbour Hill Retirement Community
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