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The Self-Assessment

We all age differently. For this reason, there is no way to set one age when everyone should stop driving. So, how do you know if you should stop?   Perhaps the best indicator is a self-assessment of your driving abilities and your overall health.

Driving ability – ask yourself these questions:

  • Do other drivers often honk at me? Have I had some accidents, even if they are only “fender benders”?
  • Do I get lost, even on roads I know?
  • Do cars or people walking seem to appear out of nowhere?
  • Have family, friends, or my doctor said they are worried about my driving?
  • Am I driving less these days because I am not as sure about my driving as I used to be?
  • Do I have trouble staying in my lane?
  • Do I have trouble moving my foot between the gas and the brake pedals, or do I confuse the two?

Health & Medications:

Some health problems can make it harder for people of any age to drive safely. But other conditions that are more common as you get older can also make driving difficult. For example, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and arthritis can interfere with your driving abilities. Additionally, people with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia may forget how to drive safely. They also may forget how to find a familiar place like the grocery store or even home. It is important to tell a family member or doctor if you become confused while driving.

Do you take any medicines that make you feel drowsy, light-headed, or less alert than usual? Medications can have side effects. People tend to take more medicines as they age, so pay attention to how these drugs may affect your driving.

  • Read the medicine labels carefully, and pay attention to any warnings.
  • Make a list of all your medicines, and talk to a doctor or pharmacist about how they may affect your driving.
  • Don’t drive if you feel light-headed or drowsy.

Setting Limitations

Sometimes it is easier for an older adult to first accept driving limitations versus giving up driving all together.  After the above assessment, you may determine that you can still drive safely with certain limitations, such as:

  • Avoid driving at night or in in climate weather.
  • Look for different routes that can help you avoid places where driving can be a problem. You could plan routes to where you want to go so that you only need to make right turns.
  • Have your driving skills checked. There are driving programs and clinics that can test driving ability and also make suggestions on improving driving skills.
  • Update your driving skills by taking a driving refresher course. Some car insurance companies may even lower your bill when you pass this type of class.

Next Week: Hanging Up the Keys & Transportation Alternatives.

This is an excerpt from an original post at

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