Driving might be something your senior still wants to do but is it something that’s getting too difficult for her to do safely?
Brain Function Changes
Your senior’s brain may start to function differently than it did in the past. She might find that it’s more difficult to concentrate on what’s going on or that it’s tough to keep up with so many different tasks while driving. She may also have memory problems, which can be dangerous for her and for others.
General Pain and Stiffness
Pain and stiffness in muscles and joints seriously hamper how well your senior is able to drive. She might find that she has much more trouble getting into and out of the car, as well as maneuvering the steering wheel and keeping track of what’s going on around her. Pain itself is distracting, too.
Back and Neck Pain
Neck and back pain, in particular, are a special type of pain and stiffness. So much of continuing to drive safely involves being able to turn and to twist in specific ways to see blind spots. There’s also a lot of activity in those core muscles in her back and abdomen that help her to do other things, like using her feet on the pedals. All of it factors in.
Reduced Muscle Strength
Beyond experiencing pain and difficulty moving, your senior might be losing some of her muscle tone and strength. That might mean that she’s not able to drive the same way that she has in the past. This is especially difficult if she’s not able to press the pedals quickly or hard enough or the steering wheel is harder to manage.
Hearing and Vision Changes
Your senior relies more on her eyes and ears while driving than she might even realize. As she starts to experience changes to both senses, she might find that driving is a little bit scarier. Yearly tests on both can help to find problems before they become too big.
The reaction times of your senior’s youth might be a distant memory for her now. She might not even notice that her reaction times have slowed down, but between the nerves sending the signals slowing down and all of the other changes she’s experiencing, she needs to take far more care behind the wheel.
If it’s becoming obvious that your elderly family member needs to explore other transportation options, don’t wait to talk to her. It’s also a really good idea to enter the conversation with some options. Hiring senior care providers to do the driving can be a huge relief for both you and your aging family member.