Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Is it Time to Give Up the Keys?

Last time we talked about a special insurance discount you might be able to get, just for being a senior driver. But what if you’re an even more “seasoned” driver, or if you look after an older loved one, and you feel the time may be approaching when the keys need to be given up? Big question. The decision to not drive anymore is an important one, for many emotional and practical reasons. How do you know when it’s time?

Gretchen Geagan, co-owner of Life Links Geriatric Care Management, a local senior care organization helping families with difficult situations such as these, says in addition to observing your loved one behind the wheel you should also “look for any poor decision-making in their other realms of life, including memory, vision, and reaction time”, which of course, can relate to how well they’d do driving a car.

Not sure whether it’s safe to get in the car with them behind the wheel? When this is the case, Gretchen suggests taking your senior for a walk through busy intersections first and observe how they react to street signals – whether they’re aware of when to go and when to stop, for example. “If you feel like it’s time for them to stop driving, it’s probably past time,” she explains.

When you believe it best that someone shouldn’t drive, but all parties concerned are struggling with the decision, you might consider getting a professional analysis of your senior’s driving ability. Gretchen suggests consulting with Vanderbilt’s Bill Wilkerson Center. Here, medical and counseling professionals conduct both an in-office and road-test evaluation. Should they feel your senior is not safe to drive, they will let you all know, but will also inform the State of Tennessee, which will take away the license permanently, so be aware that this could be a life-changing visit for all concerned.

If I can be of any assistance where seniors dovetail with insurance, please let me know. I also know a lot of people serving this constituency and can likely refer you to folks who can help.