Getting older doesn’t always mean it’s time to hang up the car keys, but there may come a point for some individuals when it is no longer safe to get behind the wheel.

Physical changes or medical issues that come with age can make driving a challenge. It is good to know these warning signs that your loved one may be having difficulty with driving:

  • Failure to notice traffic signs
  • Scrapes or dents on the vehicle
  • Hitting curbs
  • Parking inappropriately
  • Easily distracted when driving
  • Decreased confidence in driving
  • Trouble navigating turns
  • Driving at inappropriate speeds
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Riding the brake

How can families help have this discussion?

Ideally the conversation should start well before concerns arise.  Families can help with the discussion with a loved one if they observe the driver over a period of time. Look for patterns of warning signs of future problems.  The driver is often more willing to listen to concerns if you speak to them after you have observed the behavior.

Discuss potential concerns with your doctor. 

Some doctors may take an active role in providing their opinion, while others may seek to get a specialist to look at the skills.

Investigate community resources.

Be aware of services that are provided in your community for public transportation such as bus and taxi, senior services, and private programs.  Families may also need to set aside time each week to meet transportation needs of the older person. 

Provide support.

Support and understanding is necessary to help the person through the transition.  Try to share concerns about safety.

A comprehensive driving evaluation by a certified driver rehabilitation specialist is a great resource to assist families and physicians in making the decision about safety while behind the wheel. 

Madonna TherapyPlus Lincoln and Omaha campuses currently have a full, comprehensive driving assessment which includes clinical testing and a behind-the-wheel assessment.  A doctor’s referral is required to complete this testing. 

If you have further questions about driving evaluations, feel free to contact Lisa Andersen at 402.413.3657.

Helpful related websites:

About the author of this blog update:

Lisa Andersen has been with Madonna since December 1996, completing driving evaluations for more than 17 years. Currently, she is the outpatient clinical supervisor for occupational therapy at Madonna TherapyPlus Main Campus. She is a certified driver rehab specialist and certified brain injury specialist. Lisa is also a member of the Occupational Therapy board of Health for the state of Nebraska.