Doctors helpful when it’s time for seniors to stop driving

Potentially useful information for your medical director, attending physicians and residents’ adult children: Physicians can be valuable allies when adult children or others think it’s time for seniors to stop driving. That’s according to a new Liberty Mutual Insurance telephone survey of 1,000 adults aged at least 75 years.

Forty-one percent of survey respondents said they drive every day, and 38 percent said they drive several times a week, even though may reported experiencing declining physical abilities such as slow reaction times, sight or hearing issues or confusion. The older adults surveyed said a doctor's recommendation and their own recognition of their declining physical abilities are the top reasons they would limit or stop driving.

Although 84 percent of surveyed older adults who drive said they are open to conversations about limiting or stopping this activity, only six percent said they have spoken with someone about it. Most of the respondents who have not yet had such a conversation reported that they would feel most comfortable being approached by their children (66 percent) or doctor (60 percent). Physicians rarely are included in such discussions, however, according to the insurance company. The American Medical Association and the National Highway Traffic Administration have created the Physician's Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers (PDF) to aid in such talks.

Nearly all of the senior drivers surveyed said they would consider limiting or stopping their driving if presented with the right reason, but they expressed hesitation about the idea because of the fear of losing independence (64 percent), worries about becoming less active (47 percent), concern about finding alternative forms of transportation (45 percent) or fear of feeling isolated (45 percent).

Topics: Activities , Alzheimer's/Dementia , Clinical