For many seniors, driving is associated with independence. When they are able to drive they can run errands by themselves, go to the doctor’s appointment, or visit family members and friends when they want. When they give up their car keys they can feel like they’ve lost autonomy and mobility. If your loved one has impaired vision, suffers from hearing loss or disorientation, has slower reflexes or joint pain, our eldercare providers suggest it’s time for them to give up their drivers’ license.
Age alone is not a predictor for poor driving skills. But if you’re convinced your loved one is dangerous behind the wheel, you’ll have to talk to them about giving up driving. This is for their own safety and that of others. This conversation can be stressful for both of you. But there are ways to minimize your loved one’s feelings of resentment over lost independence. One long talk can put a pressure on them. Try discussing this topic casually and see how your parent would react. Explain to them there are alternative transportation arrangements, so they don’t feel like they are trapped in their house.
Before you have this conversation with them, eldercare providers recommend making sure that your parent is no longer able to drive well. Go for a ride with them and see if your intuition is right or not. If you estimate that your loved one presents a danger behind the wheel, you can use that ride as an example why they should give up their car keys.
If you don’t know how to start this conversation, eldercare providers recommend you mention recent headlines about accidents caused by seniors. This way your senior won’t feel like they’re being ambushed.
Try to make it clear that you are only concerned for their well-being. Some seniors don’t want to talk to their family members about this stressful topic. But they will listen to the advice of a professional. Their physician may provide an evaluation and explain to them they should give up driving due to safety concerns.
Also, there are programmes, such as Drive Lab, that provide driving skills evaluation. If that doesn’t help, a friend or a neighbor who has already given up driving can share their experience with your loved one.
Explain to your loved one that you will be there for them when they need you. You can offer to drive them wherever they want to go, or if you don’t have time, suggest a professional home care service, such as Comfort Keepers, which provides seniors accompanied transportation. There are other alternatives which include Mobility Transit, volunteers, and taxis.
Be straight with them, and assure them they will not lose their independence. Assure them that they’ll still be able to get around whenever they want with the help of family or an home care provider.