Aging in Style with Lori Williams
Aging in Style with Lori Williams

Episode · 7 months ago

045. Dangerous driving? How to have the conversation about giving up the keys


Driving is a symbol of independence, which is one reason why it’s tough for seniors to accept when it’s time to hand in the keys. 

It’s also not a fun conversation for loved ones to initiate. For that discussion to be effective, it’s important to recognize when and why it's time for your loved one to stop driving.

Senior Services Expert Lori Williams outlines the 7 signs to look out for, so you can be proactive and have the conversation when it’s time. She explains aging itself is not a reason to stop driving - some 90-year-olds can still drive comfortably and safely. But you should be aware of certain mental and physical limitations that make driving risky. If you understand what to look for, you can help your loved ones with knowledge and confidence.

Topics discussed:
-Driving-Seniors and Dementia
-Senior Independence
-Seniors Driving Safely
-7 red flags for seniors driving
-When it's time for seniors to stop driving

Takeaways from this episode:
- Physical changes can make driving harder, including decreased vision and mobility, slow reflexes and body stiffness.
- Examine your loved one’s car – are there fresh dents and scrapes? Also look at the state of their garage and nearby objects like the mailbox.
- Changes in mood can also indicate driving stress or difficulty. Maybe your soft-spoken mother now has road rage when she never used to in the past.
- Notice if other family members are nervous to drive with this loved one.
- AARP has a free online seminar for preparing for the conversation and engaging loved ones effectively.

Resources mentioned in this episode:
AARP's seminar about driving conversations called 'We need to talk':
Episode about watching for red flags, including dangerous driving:

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Welcome to aging in style with me, Larie Williams. I'm an optimist by nature and I believe you can followyour dreams at any age. My grandmother's journey with dementia ignited a passion inme to work with seniors. I've spent the past thirteen years learning about seniorsand aging. In my mid S, I followed my own dream and foundat my company, where I use my expertise to help seniors locate housing andresources. On this podcast we cover all aspects of aging. Joannas each weekto meet senior living experts and inspirational seniors who are following their dreams. Thefact is, we're all aging, so why not do it in style?Hey guys, welcome back to another episode of aging in style with Larie Williams. Today we are going to tackle a topic that is a kind of ahot potato one. We are talking about driving and when it's time for seniorsto give up driving, and how do we, as adult children, havethat conversation? And this is when I run across frequently when I'm speaking withfamilies. A lot of times the adult...

...children they just don't want to havethat conversation. Who Really wants to tell another dad that it's time to stopdriving. Nobody wants to have that conversation and unfortunately, because we're so afraidto have that conversation, there are seniors who are driving out there that mayhave dementia, can get lost, can cause an accident. I've, youknow, through the years, heard so many stories users one lovely lady whodrove to the grocery store and just stopped her car right there in the youknow, middle, before she got to the parking lot, just kind ofstopped and got out of the car, left it running and went into thegrocery. That's just kind of a mild situation that I've heard. I've heardthroughout the years all kinds of stories. So let's talk about it today.Let's talk about when we know that our parents should start stop driving. Whatare some signs and how to start that conversation. So I mean, firstof all, it's very common to become...

...worried about aging parents driving skills asthey get older and it's hard to have that tough conversation. And the reasonit's tough is this is kind of like the last big holdout, especially forsenior men, because driving is such a symbol of their independence and who theyare as as men. So it's really, I think, extra hard to takethe keys away from our older gentleman. So you're kind of coming up againstthat, that loss of independence, and that is, you know,the big reason why they're going to fight. John Given up driving, and Ido want to say simply because you're eighty or nine years old, itdoesn't mean that you need to stop driving. It's just if you have certain signsand you know things going on that make driving dangerous for you, becauseI have many senior friends who are in their s and still driving and stilldriving well. So the big question is, let's start with how do you knowthat your parents need to stop driving... are you're not. If youask them, do you think you should start stop driving, they're gonna sayno. So what are some things that make driving riskier as we age,as our bodies are aging? So what we're going to look for are likephysical changes and physical changes that happen that make driving more difficult. Are somepretty obvious ones, like decreased vision, so issues with their vision, havingslower reflexes that make it harder to you know, see here respond to othercars or people walking pain or stiffness. So it makes it hard, likeif they have limited mobility, data pain and stiffness in their neck, toturn to look, you know, you look over your shoulder to change lanes, and if you are stiff and pain you can't do that. So youdon't have that range of motion. leg pain or weakness and legs, whichmakes it harder to switch between the gas and the brake petals or to presshard enough. Cognitive changes that are going... slow reaction time down makes itharder to you know, merge lanes or if they're on the highway. Andmy goodness, if you live here in Dallas, I'm not ashamed to saythat I am myself fearful of some of the highways here because people are goingso fast and switching lanes and I you know, I can't imagine if Iwas eighty years old, I certainly wouldn't want to be driving on, youknow, some of the highways around here. So multitasking gets harder. So Imean, you know, there's so many things involved with driving. Peopleslamming on the brakes in front of you, road signs means situations happening with theroad, road work, or whatever. So those are just kind of thingsthat, you know, as we're physically, as we're aging, couldbecome an issue. So what are the warning signs that you're going to lookfor to see is this becoming a problem for my senior loved one, formy mom or my dad or my grandma GRANDPA? So there's seven signs tolook for. These are them? So one look at their car. Arethere fresh stents and scrapes on the car?...

Look to see maybe their mailbox ortheir fence or garage. has anything been hit the garage door? Justkind of look, you know, be aware to have their driving habits.Have they changed? Are you noticing him? These would be red flag. Soare they like blowing through stop signs when they were normally a very cautiousdriver and stopping and being safe? Do they change lanes now without even kindof looking at the blind spot? They just he just kind of a wingand a prayer, just changing lanes on you know. Have they always weretheir seatbelt and now they're not buckling up? I mean are there's just some thingsthat you're noticing. Is Not how they normally would have driven in thepast? Are they really straining to see are they having issues with, say, macular degeneration or Glaucoma, and they really can't see as well as theyshould be to be driving? For some things to look for. So numberfour is, has driving become stressful,...

...confusing, exhausting for them? Somethings to look for might be? Are they getting lost in, you know, familiar areas? Maybe they've lived in an area for forty years and suddenlythey can't make their way home from the grocery store that they've driven to amillion times? Are they having a hard time backing their car up or turningit around, having trouble seeing like traffic signals, road signs, things likethat? Well, mixing up the gas and break pedal. And you knowwhat, guys, that just happened here at my house a couple of weeksago. A lady was coming over to purchase a table and my husband wasin the garage and she had backed up and she wasn't I mean I thinkshe was maybe in her sixty so that's not really an older lady, butshe has come to a stop and then hit her gas pedal. My husbandright behind her car and just floored it.

Thankfully he was thrown out of theway and she hit my house and did a lot of damage to myhouse. But when I was kind of researching for this topic and looked atthe mixing up gas and break petals, I just went hmm, yes,currently living that, as is my house. But it does happen other things assigns that should raise concern for you, as maybe having road rage when youknow sweet little mom never had road rage. Now she's honking at otherdrivers, maybe sending them an unfriendly hand gesture, not being able to toleratedistractions, like really really having to focus and becoming frustrated, or if you'retrying to talk to them, they just they can't multitask that cannot do both. Five of the seven to look for. They're having close calls. Maybe they'venarrowly missed some accidents. That's, you know, a good sign thattheir skills are starting to deteriorate. Number six, driving at night is makingthem nervous because a lot of times as...

...we get older, and you knowI'm fifty seven and I'll tell you, I sometimes have a little trouble seeingat night, just the way the lights kind of reflect, that glare kindof thing. It just it makes it harder for me to see. SoI can imagine if you're, you know, eighty nine years old, it probablygets much worse. So you know you're going to watch if they're nervousdriving at night or I don't know that I agree that this is really asign that it is time to give up, because a lot of seniors choose notto drive at night because it is harder to drive. So, yeah, I'm getting all defensive for myself, like yeah, it's okay, fiftyseven, I don't like to drive at night. Number seven. Other peopleare scared to ride with you. So if you're, you know, friendsof your parents or maybe their grandkids are afraid to ride with them, that'sa sign that maybe it's time to take the keys away. And I've toldthis story before, so you may have heard it on one of the otherpodcasts, but my grandfather, I remember...

...riding with him back like in theearly S. I was about price sixteen or so, and he had oneof those huge boats of a car, you know that they had those,you know, giant cars back then, and we're just flying down these littlenarrow streets in New Orleans where everyone in the residential areas they park on thestreet. So it's like this very narrow area and he's just, I meanflying down the street and I probably didn't even have a seat belt on,now that I think of it, and he's telling me the whole way there. Oh, you know, I almost had an accident over here and Ihit a lady at the grocery store the other day. He's telling me allthese like near misses and finder benders Eddie had, and I'm thinking, DearLord, let me survive this. This man really doesn't need to be driving, and I definitely that one resonates with me. Other people are getting scaredbecause I was scared. So the bottom line really is any risky behavior,anything that you see, it's really best to just be proactive and have thatconversation with your mom or dad or your...

GRANDPA grandma. It's just better allaround. So I was looking for some resources that maybe are available and Ifound something through AARP that they actually have a free online seminar that you cango look through and it's all about preparing for the conversation to with to havethat conversation with your senior loved one, and it's called we need to talk, which I thought was probably a good title. Anyhow, it gives likejust tools and tips on starting kind of like a casual conversation about driving,kind of opening that line of communication and engaging them, having them do sortof like a self evaluation and then just making sure that they are they're safeto be driving. So I am going to put this I have a linkto it that I will include so that if you do need to have thatconversation, you can go and get some good tips through this free online seminar. And there's also tons of information out...

...there if you google is it timeto give up the keys, and there's a lot of a lot of goodarticles that have been written because it is a extremely hot topic that comes up, and rightfully so. There's a wealth of information out there. So Ihope this is giving you a little food for thought and some tips and ideasyou know, to look for when it comes to driving and your senior lovedones and opening up that conversation. As always, thank you for joining today'spodcast and you can find more information on our website, which is Lari Williamssenior Servicescom, and we'll see you next week. Thanks, but by.

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