Solutions to address memory or judgment issues related to driving include:
Getting professional help
Considering alternatives to driving
Getting Professional Help
Older adults' driving might change if they:
Become less confident or more anxious about their driving skills
Are easily confused
Have trouble remembering directions or rules of the road
Share your driving safety concerns with the older adult. Ask what might be causing the problems you see. Also ask if the older adult has noticed any changes with driving.
Involve the older adult's health professionals by telling them about your concerns, including:
When you first noticed problems with the older adult's driving
Whether there are certain times, locations or conditions that make driving especially challenging for the older adult
If the older adult's driving seems to be getting worse
Confusion or problems with judgment or memory can be caused by medications, lack of sleep, treatable health issues or serious health conditions.
Ask a pharmacist or other health professional to review all the older adult's medications.
Ask if any might affect driving. Sometimes, changing or reducing medications can help make driving safer.
For a thorough medication review:
Bring all of the older adult's medications, prescription and over-the-counter
Discuss when and how the older adult takes each medication
Ask the health professional what each medication is for
Ask the health professional what side effects each medication might have
Ask if the older adult has side effects, difficulty swallowing pills or taking medications as directed, or any other medication problems
If the older adult has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia, the older adult will need to stop driving at some point. Discuss driving "retirement" with the older adult, as early as possible. Including health professionals, social workers or others who the older adult trusts might make conversations easier. If the older adult gets a professional driving assessment, the occupational therapist can help figure out when it is no longer safe for the older adult to drive.
Considering Alternatives to Driving
If the older adult has increasing problems or concerns with driving, talk to them about driving less and finding other ways to get around.
Ask if the older adult can make gradual changes by:
Driving shorter distances
Driving only during daylight hours
Driving only on familiar roads
Not driving in bad weather
Avoiding left turns on busy streets, unless there's a left turn arrow
Avoiding driving on busy streets or during rush hour
Getting rides with others when possible
Look into transportation alternatives in the older adult's area, such as public transit, volunteer driver programs or rideshare programs. Ask family, friends and neighbors if they might be willing to drive the older adult around occasionally.
If the older adult starts driving less, make sure the older adult can still visit friends and family and take part in social activities. When older adults drive less or stop driving, they might become isolated or depressed.
If the older adult stops driving, ask if the older adult wants to keep the car, so that others can use it. Ask if the older adult wants to keep a driver's license or get another form of identification for travel, voting and other uses.