Age and Driving: Should I Worry?

Age and Driving: Should I Worry?

Impairments associated with aging are discussed in other Eugeria articles, such as vision impairmenthearing loss, and changes in cognition. Here, we discuss how some of these impairments impact driving.

SAAQ Requirements for Older Adults

If you have doubts about the current ability of your loved one to drive, you should know that the SAAQ in Quebec does require a medical and eye examination of drivers 6 months before their 75th birthday, 6 months before the 80th birthday, and every 2 years following that. The medical exam assesses overall health, mobility, and cognition. The eye exam aims to detect vision problems that may have developed over the years. These tests, however, do not directly assess driving itself.

What You Can Do

On your end, you can also ask your loved one these questions and look for the following signs to gauge their ability to drive safely:

  • Have you noticed new dents or scratches on the vehicle?
  • Have driving violation tickets piled up recently?
  • Do they feel overwhelmed by road signs and markings while driving?
  • What about the medication they are taking and are there any restriction on driving?
  • Ask other people who are sometimes in the vehicle if they feel comfortable as passengers

If you are very worried and find that the tests mentioned previously either come too late or might not be able to really determine driving safety, you have a few additional options.

Your first option is to talk to your relative about the situation and see if they would be open to discuss hanging up their car keys. Know that this avenue is not always easy, and studies have found that seniors are not very likely to stop driving based on advice from their family. Luckily, they are a lot more likely to do so when it comes from a doctor and hence you can set up an appointment with a doctor to evaluate your loved one’s ability to drive. Moreover, other healthcare professionals, occupational therapists, can complete driving assessments to evaluate an older adult’s safety on the road.

Another option is to call the SAAQ and tell them you believe someone is not apt to drive. After a review of that person’s file, the SAAQ may decide to ask the person to go for a medical, vision, and even driving exam.

Driving is key in maintaining an older adult’s mobility and independence. However, their safety and the safety of other drivers and pedestrians must also be considered.

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