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Are you concerned about an aging loved one's ability to drive?

Next week, residents throughout Rhode Island and beyond will gather with family and friends to celebrate the holidays. While eating, drinking and being merry are likely to dominate these holiday celebrations; it's also an opportune time to check in with and assess the health and safety of older loved ones.

Aging parents or other relatives may or may not want to discuss the possible decline in physical or cognitive health they're experiencing. However, through one's own observations and discussions with other relatives, a loved one's failing vision or dizzy spells may be revealed and it's important to consider how these health problems may impact a loved one's ability to drive.

Problems with vision, hearing and range of motion are common as we age. Additionally, an individual may not process information or physically react as quickly as they once did. While, in many cases, these types of declines in health are not severe enough to inhibit an individual's ability to drive completely, they may warrant limiting driving to only certain times of the day or along less busy routes.

While some older drivers may come to this conclusion on their own, some may be unaware or in denial of their increasing limitations. Discussing the topic of limiting or stopping driving with a parent or older relative can be difficult. However, even if a loved one initially takes offense, if there are valid concerns about his or her ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, it's an important topic to bring up. At the very least, it starts the conversation and may help an aging loved one realize that he or she needs to limit or stop driving altogether.

Source: Cars.com, "Older Driver Safety Awareness Week Seeks to Empower Seniors," Jen Burklow, Dec. 7, 2015

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