America has a long and varied love affair with the automobile. After all, it was this country that put the horseless carriage on the road and changed the global landscape forever. Cars are not only a huge convenience for most people; they are a direct sign of independence.

Aging Loved Ones and Driving

Getting your aging loved one to give up driving can be difficult. However, issues with memory loss and the often gradual signs of dementia can signal that a change in driving habits is needed. Here are four signs that it’s time for them to give up driving.

1. Near Misses

Everyone occasionally experiences a near miss with another car or a stationary object. However, if your loved one begins to have this happen to them more often, it could be due to misjudging distance, speed or other factors. Other signs include finding unexplained dents and scratches on the car as well as other structure nearby like mailboxes or the garage, for example.

2. Lack of Concentration

Does your loved one seem to have a difficult time concentrating while they are driving? As changes in the brains become more pronounced, concentration could be negatively affected. Another related sign is becoming easily distracted while driving or not being able to respond as quickly as needed in unexpected situations.

3. Road Rage Incidents

Whether your aging loved one is well known for her fiery temper or his relaxed personality is a prized element of his personality, road rage incidents can be a sign that their driving habits need to be reevaluated. Changes in your loved one’s personality can often be attributed to the stages of dementia. In other cases, your loved one might begin to cause frustration to other drivers to the point that they honk and complain.

4. Getting Lost

Getting lost while driving is, in and of itself, not typically a cause for alarm — at least not for the typical driver since it seems to happen to almost everyone at some point. As your loved one experiences memory issues or begins to go through the signs of dementia, however, you might find that they get lost more frequently. A telltale sign that it might be time to rethink your aging loved one’s driving habits if he or she gets lost in surroundings that were previously familiar to them.

Driving is arguably a complex task requiring a precise coordination between one’s brain and body. As your loved one ages, there could be signs that this connection between their thoughts and their body is beginning to unravel. While some concessions might be made — for example, perhaps you could limit driving to certain times of the day or areas — the above signs indicate that your loved one’s driving habits need to be reevaluated as soon as possible. Not only does doing so keep your own loved one safe from the hazards of the road, but it also makes the roadways safer for other drivers as well.