This week I’m putting on my Registered Nurse cap and talking about a topic that many of you have either dealt with personally or know someone who is actively going though this situation…
We work with many families and seniors who have chosen that driving is no longer safe, but yet they still have needs outside the home. From specific groceries and requests to companion visits, our goal is to allow our clients to maintain their autonomy in their most least restrictive living environment.
How do we know when our parents should no longer drive?
A list of questions to consider when assessing their safety…
- Do other drivers often honk at them?
- Have they had a minor “fender bender”?
- Are they getting lost on streets they once knew so well?
- Has their physician encouraged them to stop driving?
- Have you noticed a progressive visual decline?
- Do they get their feet “confused” between the break and gas?
- Are they not going out as much as they once did?
When families take notice to changes in driving patterns, it is very important to start the dialogue. But do so with factual conversation and kindness. Do your best to not become overly emotional.
Remember, this is a huge “loss” for our loved ones. Losing their ability to take care of themselves. Not being able to just go “get a few things”. Putting a limitation on social experiences due to limited driving.
This is a fear many older adults have… And some day we will too.
The loss of getting around on their own. The loss of autonomy. The loss of daily decision making… The loss of their own independence.
It’s so hard to remove ourselves and think —-
We want them to be safe and often will immediately offer to “take care of everything” .
But can you imagine for just a moment what that does to them? To their own freedom? It’s like all of a sudden they have been put on house arrest…
And as much as you tell them “I can help you Mom/Dad”, they do not want to become a burden on their own families.
Now there are also times when the absolute opposite occurs and our parents expect us to “step up” and take care of all their needs. This creates problems on an entirely different level. And if you are experiencing this, you know exactly what I mean.
The struggle to balance even one more thing in your already hectic life. The time you want to spend “with” Mom/Dad is now occupied by running to pharmacies and doctors visits.
What then are alternatives?
This is where home care agencies and concierge services who specialize in seniors are an invaluable resource and tool.
The #1 goal here is to help our parents maintain their sense of worth and attribution in their community. By offering them alternatives they still have an opportunity to live life and not be condemned by their physical limitations.
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