Driving standards, ageing and medical conditions
Have an open dialogue
Driving can bring enjoyment and freedom to many individuals, yet, as a person ages, or their medical condition worsens, they may be unaware their driving standards have deteriorated.
Carers: Caring and safe driving
As a carer, you’ll understand the person you care for may be reluctant to give up their car, or the opportunity to drive, so you’ll need to discuss transport options early on.
Carers may feel very reluctant to broach this subject, but if you have concerns, it's best to just bite the bullet and start the discussion.
Driving and caring
Start off by being practical. Find out about the transport needs of the person you care for, for example, how often they use their car and what alternatives they are happy to consider. As their carer, remain empathetic and compassionate. Losing the ability to drive can make people anxious about feeling isolated so reassure them and clearly explain the options that will help them retain their independence.
Other transport options
Try to suggest alternative ways the person you care for may be able to get to their destinations without their car. Research public transport routes or find out if neighbours or relatives can offer lifts. If the person you care for is unused to taking public transport, offer to accompany them on local routes so they can get used to which stops to get on and off at.
Spot driving problems early
The person you care for may currently be a safe driver, but driving skills can quickly diminish. Keep an eye on their driving ability and watch for signs of difficulties, such as getting lost, driving too slowly or too quickly, getting anxious, or having near misses.
Carers and car maintenance
While the person you care for is still driving, make sure their car has a full MOT and is well maintained with regular service checks. As their carer, you might want to check the petrol and oil levels and tyre pressure on a regular basis.
Caring for the elderly or disabled: DVLA restrictions
If the person you care for currently suffers from a medical condition or disability that may affect their driving you must tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). The person will need to provide details of any new disabilities or of any existing conditions that have become worse since their licence was issued. Failure to notify the DVLA is a criminal offence.
A medical Assessment
A GP can assess whether the person you care for is fit to drive, based on the DVLA’s medical standards. If their GP advises them not to drive, the person cared for can surrender their licence to the DVLA, and, should their condition improve, they can re-apply at a later date. As a carer, asking a doctor to complete this assessment can be an easier way to make the decision to finally take away the car keys.
Carers' support groups and car sharing
As a carer you may find yourself doing a lot of extra driving to accommodate your loved one. If you belong to a local carers' support group find out if there are opportunities for car sharing. Alternatively, ask local family and friends if they can share the driving responsibilities.
Elderly people and driving
Some hospitals, charities and care homes, offer free transport for elderly people to and from the home.
List transport options
Record the contact details of any car share options, free transportation, charities, friends, family, and taxi companies. Keep this list by your phone or in a care diary.
Caring and car hire
The cost of keeping and maintaining a car can be high. If the person you care for rarely uses their vehicle, hiring a car as and when required can be a way to potentially save costs over all.