Active seniors don’t want to be told that it is time to give up driving. We feel like it is a step towards losing our independence. The decision made by our family doctor to report us as an unfit driver is never easy.
As we age, we may have problems with decreased vision, impaired hearing, or slowed motor reflexes. There could be a sudden change in health such as stroke or medical symptoms that gradually worsen with time.
When discussing vision problems and cataracts with our doctor, they will likely have a conversation with us about renewing our drivers’ license. They are concerned about road safety – ours and other drivers. When asked by my doctor – “do I feel confident enough to safely drive with my grandchildren in the car?” If I cannot honestly answer yes – then I know it is time to give up driving.
Sometimes a spouse or our children are concerned about our driving abilities. Maybe a few new dents or different paint marks will appear on my car from nudging too close to other objects.
Our doctors aren’t just suspending senior’s driving privileges; they are complying with the law. The conversation we have with our doctors when they complete the report is a critical part of the process. The final decision about our driver’s license rests with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.
The physician’s report is used to help identify drivers who are at significant risk so that immediate action can be taken. Not all reports result in license suspension. If our medical condition or functional impairment is well controlled, the ministry won’t necessarily suspend our license. The ministry may request some follow up information such as; a medical exam, blood work, a specialist report or a statement of proof from a driving clinic professional to determine whether we are fit to drive.
There are other options rather than taking our keys away. Maybe we are not at the point that our doctor will determine us medically unfit for driving, we can find ways to limit driving. Many active seniors limit driving on busy roads during busy hours, avoid night-driving, and avoid highways. When we give up driving it doesn’t have to be a negative step in the future. It could mean getting to see my family or friends more often. There are plenty of other forms of transportation available and I won’t have to always rely on others to drive me. Giving up a vehicle means more money in my pocket – no more rising gas prices, insurance, car repairs etc.
Many active seniors still enjoy getting outside in the fresh air for a walk that can benefit our health – keeping us active and improving our circulation. Take a break from the stress of driving – slow down and enjoy the pace.