When an elderly person can no longer drive it is a practical and emotional issue. Not driving can lead to both isolation and dependency.
“Older drivers may be dealing with vision or hearing problems, not to mention reflexes that aren’t as sharp as they once were. In addition, many older adults in the U.S. suffer from serious, chronic illnesses that can impede their ability to drive safely, such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease or dementia.”
How to Approach the Subject of Not Driving With Your Loved One:
To begin with, you will want to be delicate in your approach. It will be difficult for a person who has been used to being independent and driving when and where they want to give up that freedom and privilege. Observe the following before you talk to them about it:
Have they had a recent driving infraction?
Are there signs of damage to the car?
Both of these issues are topics that allow you to approach your senior regarding their current ability to drive.
In the State of Florida, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has set specific rules for older drivers.
Starting at 80 years old, drivers must renew every six years and pass a vision test.
Written test: May be required, based on driving history, signs of physical or mental impairment based on observations of a department clerk, or a report by a law enforcement officer, a physician, a family member, or another member of the public.
Road test: May be required if there are signs of physical or mental impairment, based on observations of a department clerk or in response to a report by a law enforcement officer, a physician, a family member, or another member of the public.
If your senior refuses to give up driving and you believe they are a threat to themselves and others behind the wheel of a vehicle, you can file an unsafe driver report with the DMV. The DMV will contact the person and request a medical evaluation and a driving test.
Also, Florida GrandDriver program is an education and outreach initiative that provides information and resources on driving safely and how to plan for safe transitioning from driving.
This information can be accessed at the following web link:
There you can find links to the Medical Referral Form that can be submitted confidentially and can be used to report a driver whose ability is questionable. These forms can be used by a physician, person or agency that feels an individual’s driving ability is questionable due to a physical or mental deficit or disorder.
A referral must be based on medical conditions or symptoms that could affect safe driving and not the age of the driver.
The forms are in both English and Spanish and include:
Medical Reporting Form
Mature Driver Vision Test
Report of Eye Exam.
“CarFit is an educational program developed by the American Society on Aging in collaboration with AAA, AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association. The CarFit program offers older adults the opportunity to check how well their personal vehicles “fit” them.”
Follow this web link to view a brochure on CarFit: https://www.car-fit.org/downloads/AAA-CarFit-brochure-FINALApril2014.pdf For more information please contact:
Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles Neil Kirkman Building, 2900 Apalachee Parkway Tallahassee, FL 32399-0500 Phone: 850-617-2000
How Do Seniors Get Around When They No Longer Have Their Wheels
Once your loved one no longer has a vehicle, it is import that they still have transportation to the doctor, to see family and friends and run errands. There are numerous transportation solutions for seniors who can no longer drive:
Medical transport services are usually provided through an insurance company. There may be a limit on the number of transports per year, but the amount allowed by the insurance company is usually reasonably generous. My mom’s insurance company allows her 48 one-way transports per year which averages out to 4 trips per month (for example, 2 doctor visits per month). So when I am unable to assist her with these trips, she simply calls her transport company. You will need book your ride in advance of your appointment date. So check with your loved one’s insurance company regarding this. The transport company will also ask if the person going will need assistance getting to and from the vehicle. Also, they are allowed to have a person ride along in order to assist them as well.
Uber: A senior who is not savvy with a Smartphone or who is otherwise unable to accomplish this task doesn’t need to worry about trying to connect with Uber themselves in order to get transportation. A family member can set up an Uber account on their phone and order their ride.
Lyft: Lyft has a setting in its app to request a vehicle capable of accommodating wheelchairs but in areas where Lyft doesn’t have such vehicles it recommends another service that may need to be booked 24 hours or more in advance.
More Helpful Information:
Refer to car donation page (blog #31) if you find that your senior will no longer need their vehicle. There you find helpful advice on how and where to donate an unwanted vehicle.
Call Interiors for Seniors for a FREE consultation 321-279-3301.
“Seniors and Driving: A Guide.” Caring.com, www.caring.com/caregivers/senior-driving/#causes-of-driving-difficulties-with-age.