The number of New Yorkers over age 65 increased during the past decade by 26 percent. Today, almost one in six New York residents are above 65. That’s just above 16 percent.
And seniors are living longer, more productive lives. Which means they’re not only able to stay in their homes as they get older, but also drive their cars. So they can easily shop, see friends, and get to appointments.
But many are also dealing with onset dementia. This leads to not only problems around the house but also driving the car. How do you handle someone who may become dangerous on the road? Especially a person who has been driving so many years. They’re unwilling to give up the freedom and convenience of their own car.
We checked with the Alzheimer’s Association for advice. Here’s what we found.
The Talk About Giving Up the Car
Start the conversation before your loved one has to stop driving. Get them used to thinking about it ahead of time. Point out the fact that fast action is often required when we drive. There is the possibility that in the future they may not be able to handle driving a car.
When it comes time to “have the conversation,” here are some tips:
- Address resistance with love and support.
- Engage their sense of responsibility to others.
- Ask their physician to recommend they stop driving. Have him or her write a letter to that effect so you’ll have it with you as you discuss the decision that they not drive.
- Get another objective 3rd party in on the conversation.
- Be patient but firm. Acknowledge the pain the person is going through as they deal with this new reality.
- It may come to taking the keys away from the individual or disabling the car, so have a plan in place to convince your loved one that their transportation needs will be met.
We have heard from many customers, friends, and family members how difficult all this can be. Thing is, you can’t blame yourself. Alzheimer’s impairs judgement. It makes it difficult for people to see the world rationally. And mood and personality changes cause more pronounced negative reactions.
So if you notice your family member, or yourself, forgetting how to locate familiar places. Failing to observe traffic lights and signs. Hitting curbs or getting into multiple fender benders, it’s probably time to tackle the issue head on.
We hope the advice above helps. But as difficult as it will most likely be, you may be saving lives. Including the life of your loved one. We take the skills necessary to drive for granted our whole lives. But as we get older, those routine skills deteriorate and driving becomes more dangerous.
Our recommendation is to not wait till it’s too late to take the keys away from an unsafe driver. Keep your loved ones and others safe on the road. Set up alternate transportation.
And make it as easy as possible for your loved one during this difficult transition.
Until next time,
Your SZW Team
SZW Insurance is your Utica area Trusted Choice™ independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here. In Westchester County call Zak Scalzo at 914.246.0315 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.