Transportation Needs for Caregivers and Their Loved Ones

Expert Elinor Ginzler talks about resources you can use

Elinor Ginzler: You sure did the right thing, even though it seems to me that the DMV handled it poorly. The most important issue is safety — for your dad and for others on the road. Even he would agree that he does not want to have a bad accident with a bad outcome because of his declining abilities. I am surprised that the DMV revealed the source of the complaint. Most have policies that protect the confidentiality of the person reporting the concern.

However, it sounds like the outcome was a very fair one — he is still driving but modifying his driving behaviors to match his abilities. Many seniors restrict themselves to driving only in the daytime because they recognize signs that night driving is getting to be unsafe for them. Let your dad know that you love him and want him to be safe for a long, long time, and driving only during the day seems to be a great solution for now.

Comment from Mary Dunlap: I missed the testing for older drivers because I was going out of town. Is there a way to sign up for it?

Elinor Ginzler: I think you're talking about the AARP Driver Safety program. To find out where and when the course is offered, check out the course locator. The course is also offered online so you can take the class at your own pace in the comfort of your own home. Good luck!

Comment from Kristy: I am caring for my cousin who has dementia. I am not her power of attorney, but I need to help her apply for transportation services from our local transit company. What is the best way to go about doing this? Will not having a power of attorney make it difficult to act on her behalf?

Elinor Ginzler: Many times a doctor's evaluation is needed for someone to qualify for paratransit services from the local transit company. You can help her obtain and submit the necessary medical forms and help her complete her portion of the information so that she becomes eligible for transportation assistance.

Comment from Susan: As a caregiver, what warning signs should I watch for with my dad and driving? I fear he's holding back on telling me what is happening. His heart isn't so well.

Elinor Ginzler: Most people want to continue driving for as long as they can safely do so. However, a time will come for many when they must limit or stop driving, either temporarily or permanently. To really find out how your dad's driving is going you have to get in the car with him. These are some warning signs that indicate a person should begin to limit or stop driving:

  • Almost crashing, with frequent close calls;
  • Finding dents and scrapes on the car, on fences, mailboxes, garage doors, curbs, etc.;
  • Having trouble seeing or following traffic signals, road signs and pavement markings;
  • Misjudging gaps in traffic at intersections and on highway entrance and exit ramps;
  • Having a hard time turning around to check the rear view while backing up or changing lanes;
  • Receiving multiple traffic tickets or warnings from law enforcement officers

Comment from Sarah: How do I find information on the local transportation services in my area?

Elinor Ginzler: Your local jurisdiction's transportation department likely describes public services on its website. And most senior directories created by local communities and towns include listings of mobility/transportation organizations, as it is such an important issue.

Next page: Talking to your loved one about stopping driving. »

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