Caregiver tips: When to take the car keys away

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Driving offers us freedom – to visit friends, to travel, to run errands on our own schedule. However, there often comes a time in life when if we continue to drive we may put ourselves and others at risk. If you are a caregiver for an elderly loved one, taking the car keys away may be one of the more difficult conversations you need to have. Here is some advice on how to help your loved one through this new phase of life.

Signs of unsafe driving

If you’re wondering if you loved one needs to stop driving, look for these signs:

  • Failing to observe traffic signals
  • Driving at inappropriate speeds
  • Confusing the break and the gas pedals
  • Hitting curbs
  • Making errors at intersections
  • Poor or slow decision making in traffic

How to take the keys away

Telling your loved one they need to stop driving can be extremely challenging. Some seniors may recognize that their driving skills aren’t what they used to be and hand over the keys readily. However, others may resent giving up their freedom and worry about how they will get around. Assure your loved one that you will arrange for alternate transportation options provided by yourself, family and friends. Transit options are also available for seniors, including TransNet and Bucks County Transport in the suburbs and Septa’s CCT Connect in Philadelphia. Remind your loved one that they are doing the right thing in keeping themselves and others safe.

If your loved one still refuses to give up the keys, have their physician speak with them. Sometimes a neutral third party can help diffuse a tense situation with objective advice.

It may become necessary to just take the keys away to ensure your loved one’s safety. Be calm, understanding and acknowledge their pain while appealing to your loved one’s desire to act responsibly. Make sure that they understand that they will still be able to do the things they love to do and that you will be there to help them through this difficult transition.

If you need assistance with caregiver services, please call Abramson Care Advisors at 215-371-3400. A senior care advisor is available to help you, free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.