Worried That Your Parents Are Too Old to Drive?
When are your parents too old to drive? If you’re worried, our expert explains what factors you should consider and how to get them evaluated.
In the next 20 years, the number of elderly drivers — age 70 and older — is predicted to triple in the United States. Although many older motorists become more careful on the road, statistics show that they are more likely than younger drivers to be involved in multi-vehicle crashes.
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“The majority of elderly individuals believe that they can drive, and most of them are capable of doing this,” says Ronan Factora, MD, of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Geriatric Medicine and Co-Director of the Aging Brain Clinic.
“The difficulty arises when they display physical or cognitive problems associated with driving impairment. It is often difficult for them to recognize the problem and its impact on driving safety,” he says.
There is no particular age at which elderly individuals should stop driving. “If there are physical, sensory or cognitive issues that would impair driving, I recommend a formal driving assessment to determine risk,” says Dr. Factora.
Because driving equals independence for most people, the family should approach the issue sensitively, Dr. Factora says. Offering transportation is a start. He has suggestions for when you decide to approach your loved one about giving up the wheel.
“Do not ignore or discount your concerns,” Dr. Factora says. “Problems may have been going on for longer than the family has noticed.”
If it’s time for a direct discussion with your elderly loved one, don’t put it off. Lives could be at stake.