Navigating the Emotional Decision to Stop Driving


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Challenging Conversations: When to Stop Driving

Sherrie Waugh, a certified driving rehabilitation specialist at The Brain Center in Indiana, has encountered a range of emotional reactions while administering driving tests. These reactions often stem from delivering the difficult news that it may be time for the individual to stop driving. Working with older drivers, she assesses factors like visual skills, reaction time, and processing speed.

She recalled a particularly poignant moment with a gentleman in the early stages of dementia. The emotional weight of the decision was palpable as tears were shed by all involved – the driver, his wife waiting in the car, and Ms. Waugh herself. Making these decisions can be incredibly challenging.

Deciding when an older person or someone with physical or mental limitations should stop driving is a complex and emotional process. It can impact the individual’s sense of independence and identity, and can also place an additional burden on family caregivers.

According to Lauren Massimo, an assistant professor at Penn Nursing, the loss of driving privileges for older individuals has been described as deeply distressing and dehumanizing.

Experts emphasize the importance of addressing concerns as soon as they arise. By approaching the conversation about giving up driving with empathy and understanding, it can help ease the emotional burden for both the older driver and their loved ones.

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