There is no bright line rule for when it is time for a senior to stop driving. It might be nice if there were, but I don’t know where you would draw it. The ability to drive is so important to most people that taking the right to drive away from someone, even when safety is a concern is just hard.
My own family has not been immune from driving issues. If you have browsed around my website long enough, you probably know my grandmother was a big part of the reason I became an elder law attorney. As I write this, I am recalling a run in she had with Walmart. As in, she ran into Walmart. Things had to get that bad before her children intervened, although they were clearly worried about her driving long before that. It was just too hard to take that right away from her.
Losing the ability to drive isn’t just about driving, though, is it? It is about the loss of independence. Of freedom. And perhaps of more ominous threat of losses to come.
If you are worried about a loved one’s ability to drive, do not expect or rely on the State of Kansas to simply stop renewing their license or to give them some kind of senior driving test. There is no such thing. You can find out more about the Kansas Department of Revenue’s senior driving positions here. But the bottom line is that if you are truly worried about the loved one, don’t rely on the State to fix the issue.
You can take proactive measures to help, though. If possible, attend a doctor’s appointment with your loved one and have a conversation as a group about your concerns. There are also other options for transportation here in Douglas County. In addition to things like Taxis and Ubers, check out the Senior Resource Center of Douglas County’s Senior Wheels program and Community Village. If the loved one will embrace those types of services, there may be no need to drive and independence can be maintained. If those services aren’t appropriate, a move to an assisted living facility might be an option.
But some people aren’t going to give up driving without a fight. And that can be tough. In extreme cases, an attorney and a guardianship might be necessary.
Compassion can go a long way, though. Remember what it was like to gain your independence when you were a kid. How wonderful it was to be able to do what you want, when you want, and on your own terms. Creating an environment where someone can still do that – without the NEED to drive – makes the loss of the ability to drive so much more palatable.