Maintaining Independence

Many of us take for granted our ability to be mobile. The ability to get up and go whenever and wherever we’d like is one of the wonderful liberties we experience as adults. However, as we age, driving typically becomes unsafe for an array of reasons, and the time arrives when the difficult dialogue must be held to counsel an older adult on giving up the car keys. Needless to say, many older individuals are reluctant to surrender driving and the autonomy it represents.

So what is the best way to deal with driving issues with an older parent? The Topeka Alzheimer’s care team at Grace Home Care advises taking it one small step at a time:

  • Step 1: Think Ahead. Initiate the dialogue well in advance of any driving issues, to plant the seed that a plan will need to be made at some time down the road about when and how the senior will need to give up the keys. At this stage, you can get thoughts from the senior about the warning signs he or she believes should signal the need to stop driving. It’s a good idea to take notes on the conversation to save and take out again when the need emerges.
  • Step 2: Watch for Changes. Once you begin to notice your senior loved one growing overly cautious, seeming to become distracted or confused, or experiencing delayed response in driving, or any similar challenges, it’s a good time to review the conversation you had with the person earlier to bring the issue back to the surface. A senior driving refresher course is often helpful during this stage.
  • Step 3: Increased Concerns. As driving problems begin to escalate, a visit with the doctor is needed to get his or her input on the senior’s need to discontinue driving. It might be that the older adult has a physical problem that can be dealt with, such as with the senior’s vision, which might allow the senior to safely continue to drive.
  • Step 4: It’s Time. When a senior’s mental, physical, or visual status, and/or reaction time are compromised, it becomes a matter of life and death. For the older adult’s safety as well as that of other drivers and even pedestrians, it’s vital to move ahead with the strategy for the senior to quit driving.
  • Step 5: Foster Independence. Generally, older adults feel quite a sense of loss when they are no longer able to drive, and it will be important to have a plan in place to enable them to maintain as much freedom as possible.

At Grace Home Care, our Topeka Alzheimer’s care professionals help older adults remain independent by supplying safe, reliable accompanied transportation as per each individual’s preferred timeline. If the senior has a routine hair appointment every Tuesday afternoon, lunch at a favorite restaurant every Friday, and a yoga class on Saturday mornings, all of these activities can seamlessly continue, regardless of his or her ability to drive. Contact us at 785.286.CARE to learn more about our premier Topeka Alzheimer’s care solutions that are designed to boost independence, safety and quality of life for your senior loved one.