Maintaining Independence

We are a mobile society, and being able to get out whenever and wherever we desire is one of the very best liberties we enjoy as adults. However, as we grow older, driving typically ends up being hazardous based on a number of factors, and the time subsequently comes when the difficult discussion must be held to encourage an older adult to give up the car keys. As you can imagine, many seniors are unwilling to give up driving and the self-sufficiency it signifies.

So what’s the best way to deal with driving difficulties with an older loved one? The home care team at Hearts at Home In-Home Care, a trusted provider of in home care in Overland Park, KS and nearby areas, advises taking it one small step at a time:

  • Step 1: Plan in Advance. Get started with the conversation well in advance of any driving problems, to plant the seed that a decision will need to be made eventually about how and when the older adult will need to give up the keys. During this stage, you can get input from the older adult about the warning signals he or she thinks should influence the need to stop driving. It’s helpful to take notes on the conversation to save and bring out again when the need arises.
  • Step 2: Keep an Eye Out for Changes. If you begin to notice your senior loved one growing overly cautious, seeming to become distracted or confused, experiencing slowed response in driving, or any similar problems, it’s the right time to go back over the conversation you had with the senior earlier to bring the issue back to the surface. A senior driving refresher course is often helpful at this stage.
  • Step 3: Increased Difficulties. As driving problems begin to increase, a visit with the physician is needed to get his or her input on the person’s need to stop driving. It might be that the senior is experiencing a physical problem that can be dealt with, such as with the his or her vision, which might enable the senior to safely continue to drive.
  • Step 4: Now Is the Time. When a senior’s mental, physical, or visual status, and/or reaction time are compromised, it becomes a matter of life and death. For the senior’s safety as well as that of other drivers and pedestrians, it’s vital to move ahead with the plan for the senior to stop driving.
  • Step 5: Enable Freedom. Typically, seniors feel quite a sense of loss when they are no longer able to drive, and it will be important to have a plan in place to permit them to preserve as much independence as possible.

At Hearts at Home, we can help older individuals continue to be independent by supplying safe, reliable accompanied transportation based on each individual’s preferred schedule. If the senior has a standing hair appointment each Thursday afternoon, lunch at the neighborhood restaurant every Friday, and a garden club meeting on Saturday mornings, all of these activities can seamlessly continue, regardless of his or her ability to drive. Contact us at 913-440-4209 to find out more about our professional in home care in Overland Park, KS and the surrounding areas.