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

Episode · 11 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 follow your dreams at any age. My grandmother's journey with dementia ignited a passion in me to work with seniors. I've spent the past thirteen years learning about seniors and aging. In my mid S, I followed my own dream and found at my company, where I use my expertise to help seniors locate housing and resources. On this podcast we cover all aspects of aging. Joannas each week to meet senior living experts and inspirational seniors who are following their dreams. The fact 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 a hot potato one. We are talking about driving and when it's time for seniors to give up driving, and how do we, as adult children, have that conversation? And this is when I run across frequently when I'm speaking with families. A lot of times the adult...

...children they just don't want to have that conversation. Who Really wants to tell another dad that it's time to stop driving. Nobody wants to have that conversation and unfortunately, because we're so afraid to have that conversation, there are seniors who are driving out there that may have dementia, can get lost, can cause an accident. I've, you know, through the years, heard so many stories users one lovely lady who drove to the grocery store and just stopped her car right there in the you know, middle, before she got to the parking lot, just kind of stopped and got out of the car, left it running and went into the grocery. That's just kind of a mild situation that I've heard. I've heard throughout 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. What are some signs and how to start that conversation. So I mean, first of all, it's very common to become...

...worried about aging parents driving skills as they get older and it's hard to have that tough conversation. And the reason it's tough is this is kind of like the last big holdout, especially for senior men, because driving is such a symbol of their independence and who they are as as men. So it's really, I think, extra hard to take the keys away from our older gentleman. So you're kind of coming up against that, that loss of independence, and that is, you know, the big reason why they're going to fight. John Given up driving, and I do want to say simply because you're eighty or nine years old, it doesn't mean that you need to stop driving. It's just if you have certain signs and you know things going on that make driving dangerous for you, because I have many senior friends who are in their s and still driving and still driving well. So the big question is, let's start with how do you know that your parents need to stop driving... are you're not. If you ask them, do you think you should start stop driving, they're gonna say no. 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 like physical changes and physical changes that happen that make driving more difficult. Are some pretty obvious ones, like decreased vision, so issues with their vision, having slower reflexes that make it harder to you know, see here respond to other cars or people walking pain or stiffness. So it makes it hard, like if they have limited mobility, data pain and stiffness in their neck, to turn 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 you don't have that range of motion. leg pain or weakness and legs, which makes it harder to switch between the gas and the brake petals or to press hard enough. Cognitive changes that are going... slow reaction time down makes it harder to you know, merge lanes or if they're on the highway. And my goodness, if you live here in Dallas, I'm not ashamed to say that I am myself fearful of some of the highways here because people are going so fast and switching lanes and I you know, I can't imagine if I was eighty years old, I certainly wouldn't want to be driving on, you know, some of the highways around here. So multitasking gets harder. So I mean, you know, there's so many things involved with driving. People slamming on the brakes in front of you, road signs means situations happening with the road, road work, or whatever. So those are just kind of things that, you know, as we're physically, as we're aging, could become an issue. So what are the warning signs that you're going to look for to see is this becoming a problem for my senior loved one, for my mom or my dad or my grandma GRANDPA? So there's seven signs to look for. These are them? So one look at their car. Are there fresh stents and scrapes on the car?...

Look to see maybe their mailbox or their fence or garage. has anything been hit the garage door? Just kind of look, you know, be aware to have their driving habits. Have they changed? Are you noticing him? These would be red flag. So are they like blowing through stop signs when they were normally a very cautious driver and stopping and being safe? Do they change lanes now without even kind of looking at the blind spot? They just he just kind of a wing and a prayer, just changing lanes on you know. Have they always were their seatbelt and now they're not buckling up? I mean are there's just some things that you're noticing. Is Not how they normally would have driven in the past? 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 they should be to be driving? For some things to look for. So number four is, has driving become stressful,...

...confusing, exhausting for them? Some things 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 suddenly they can't make their way home from the grocery store that they've driven to a million times? Are they having a hard time backing their car up or turning it around, having trouble seeing like traffic signals, road signs, things like that? Well, mixing up the gas and break pedal. And you know what, guys, that just happened here at my house a couple of weeks ago. A lady was coming over to purchase a table and my husband was in the garage and she had backed up and she wasn't I mean I think she was maybe in her sixty so that's not really an older lady, but she has come to a stop and then hit her gas pedal. My husband right behind her car and just floored it.

Thankfully he was thrown out of the way and she hit my house and did a lot of damage to my house. But when I was kind of researching for this topic and looked at the mixing up gas and break petals, I just went hmm, yes, currently living that, as is my house. But it does happen other things as signs that should raise concern for you, as maybe having road rage when you know sweet little mom never had road rage. Now she's honking at other drivers, maybe sending them an unfriendly hand gesture, not being able to tolerate distractions, like really really having to focus and becoming frustrated, or if you're trying 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've narrowly missed some accidents. That's, you know, a good sign that their skills are starting to deteriorate. Number six, driving at night is making them nervous because a lot of times as...

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

...riding with him back like in the early S. I was about price sixteen or so, and he had one of 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 little narrow streets in New Orleans where everyone in the residential areas they park on the street. So it's like this very narrow area and he's just, I mean flying 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 I hit a lady at the grocery store the other day. He's telling me all these like near misses and finder benders Eddie had, and I'm thinking, Dear Lord, 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 scared because 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 that conversation with your mom or dad or your...

GRANDPA grandma. It's just better all around. So I was looking for some resources that maybe are available and I found something through AARP that they actually have a free online seminar that you can go look through and it's all about preparing for the conversation to with to have that 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 like just 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 sort of like a self evaluation and then just making sure that they are they're safe to be driving. So I am going to put this I have a link to it that I will include so that if you do need to have that conversation, 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 time to give up the keys, and there's a lot of a lot of good articles 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 I hope this is giving you a little food for thought and some tips and ideas you know, to look for when it comes to driving and your senior loved ones and opening up that conversation. As always, thank you for joining today's podcast and you can find more information on our website, which is Lari Williams senior Servicescom, and we'll see you next week. Thanks, but by.

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