Many seniors are hesitant to stop driving, while some resolutely refuse. Elderly parents who are determined to hold onto their car keys might argue that once they give up their right to drive, they will be giving up their independence as well.
If you believe it is time for your parents to hand over their car keys, take a few minutes to think about what you will say. If you rush the conversation or make immediate demands, it’s unlikely the discussion will have the desired results.
1. Assess the quality of driving. Before you discuss any subject of elder care, it’s best to plan ahead. Prepare for the conversation by developing a detailed list of reasons why you are concerned.
2. Give specific examples. Instead of saying “Dad, you’re too old to drive,” give your aging father recent examples of why it may not be wise for him to continue. Tell him when he missed a stop sign, ignored pedestrians crossing the road, went the wrong speed limit, narrowly avoided an accident, and so on. Being specific helps.
3. Express concern for others. Your aging parent should recognize that you have legitimate concern for other drivers. Try this approach: “Mom, I know you would feel awful if you accidentally hit someone, or caused an accident. Why don’t we talk about what alternatives there are?” If you are already utilizing a home care system, talk about how their services may help your aging parent maintain their independence by incorporating transportation services.
4. Give them Plan B. Your parent won’t want to simply hear that she shouldn’t drive anymore; she’ll want to know what alternatives she has. Offer to drive her, give her a public bus schedule, or look into what other modes of transportation are available. In fact, in this discussion, you might find that the use of taxis is actually cheaper than owning a car after accounting for gas, insurance, and maintenance. Many homecare agencies also offer transportation as part of their services, and agencies that utilize home care software will be able to make notes in care plans about where seniors need to go!
5. Be understanding but persistent. This is one of those family caregiving conversations you may need to have more than once, but don’t give up. Like all aspects of senior care, the issue of safe driving is an important one.
If you give in to your aging parent’s arguments or avoid having this discussion, the problem doesn’t go away; it gets worse – potentially deadly.
Keep your elderly loved ones (and others) safe by using these tips to convince them when it’s time to stop driving.