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Should your elderly parent still be driving?

Many adult children are not prepared for the role reversal that comes with caring for an aging parent. Your parents used to decide what was best for you and set the rules accordingly. But when you are an adult and your parent is a senior citizen, that task may fall to you.

One unexpected challenge that comes with having elderly parents is determining whether they are still capable of driving safely. While age is not necessarily indicative of a driver's skill, it is true that many drivers begin to lose their faculties once they become elderly. This is a list of a few things that you can consider when determining whether your parent should still be on the road.

1. Sight or hearing damage

Many senior citizens suffer from sight or hearing damage. Sometimes this can be rectified with a stronger glasses prescription or a hearing aid, but hearing or sight loss can eventually negatively impact a senior's ability to drive. If your parent has trouble hearing car horns or emergency vehicles' sirens, seeing traffic signs or even seeing pedestrians and other cars, it is a sign that they should no longer be driving.

2. Diminished driving skills

Have you ever sat in the passenger seat while your elderly parent was driving and cringed at their driving skills? Perhaps they weave in and out of their lane, or drive excruciatingly slow on the freeway. Maybe they roll through stop signs and zoom through yellow lights. Their car may have telltale dings and scratches; they may have accumulated several minor traffic tickets. These are all indications that your parent's driving skills have eroded to the point where they should no longer be on the road.

3. Delayed reaction time

Driving requires fast reflexes. You may need to slam on your brakes unexpectedly, make a sudden turn or swerve to avoid another vehicle. Drivers who have a delayed reaction time may pose a danger to other motorists and pedestrians. When your parents' reaction time has eroded to the point where they cannot react quickly to the road's many surprises, it may be time to take away their keys, permanently.

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