Your Menopause, Your Mom and Her Driving


For the sandwich generation, going through menopause means not only dealing with your issues; there are your kids and your parents issues to cope with as well.

One area that is a real challenge is helping your parents decide to “hang up the car keys.” The very people who gave us our car keys must now be told it’s time to hand over theirs. There are 22 million older adults who have a valid drivers license and those numbers are on the rise.

So here are some ways you can assess your parents to decide if you should have the “car key talk” with them along with some things that can help them be as safe as possible:

  1. Talk with their doctor about your parents’ vision, mental status and physical limitations. Ethical guidelines from the American Medical Association permit doctors to contact their state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if they think a patient puts the public at risk.
  2. Make sure their eyes are checked annually for vision changes, macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts. This helps prevent falls as well.
  3. Ask your parent’s doctor about a test called the UFOV (Useful Field of View). This test is defined as “the area over which a person can extract information in a single glance without moving his or her head or eye.” The test isn’t perfect, but a 40% reduction suggests the driver is unsafe.
  4. Refer them to a hospital-based occupational therapy program for a road test.
  5. If possible, make sure their car has automatic transmission, power steering, power brakes, and large mirrors.
  6. Avoid high traffic areas and times of day, and avoid driving in bad weather.
  7. Limit night driving.
  8. If they need a hearing aid, make sure they use it when driving.
  9. Use common sense. Do you feel safe when you drive with them? Would you feel comfortable letting them drive your child? Would you feel comfortable walking on the sidewalk near them or driving in the lane next to where they are driving?

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