Driving with Cognitive Decline

Making the Decision of When to Take Away the Keys

Senior driving safety and when to put down the keys faces each of us at one time or another.  This is a very sensitive topic for many families, seniors, or their spouses.  How to identify people whose driving raises concerns and how to address those concerns is the question.  It becomes scary when the individual gets lost and cannot find their way back home.

Senior driving safety: when is it time to put down the keys? -

Taking away the cr keys is usually the last form of independence for an older adult. It impacts their freedom, sense of independence as well as their self-confidence.  At the same time, drivers with dementia can harm themselves or others.  It’s emotionallly stressful for family members who worry about their parent or loved one who may be putting themselves in harms way.

Recently, having witnessed an indivudual who totally missed the one-ramp to the freeway, was cutting across the grass to get back to the ramp had caused a great deal of confusion among drivers who witnessed this from behind and were trying to avoid a collision.

Often, families solicit the help of medical professionals like their family doctor or geriatrician to guide older adults toward putting away the keys and accepting the fact that they are making the decision collectivley with family, healthcare professionals and friends.  Other times, devices on the car are disabled and it’s shared that the cost of the repairs are significant, deterring the owner from proceeding with such repairs. Other times, the keys are simply lost or misplaced. Each situation is different and bears out different strategies.

What do physicians and state licensing laws generally think about at-risk elderly drivers?

Here is an interesting article from one of our industry colleagues who sheds some light on the conversation of the balance of Medical and Public Safety regulatory oversignt.