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How to Approach a Parent About Giving Up the Keys

Giving up the car keys can be one of the most traumatic events in an older person’s life.

Not only does it symbolize the loss of autonomy and mobility, it can also affect one’s social life, dignity, and self-esteem.

As we age, our reaction time and vision can change. First, make sure your parent has had a recent examination from her physician and eye doctor. Health changes, new medications, corrective lenses, poor depth perception, slow reflexes, disorientation are but a few of the reasons for giving up a drivers’ license.

According to a 2007 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, older drivers, based on miles driven, “are more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than all but the youngest drivers.”

So, there comes a time when families are faced with having to talk with an older loved one about giving up driving, for their own safety and that of others. How do you do this and minimize a senior’s feelings of resentment over lost independence?

Talking about discontinuing driving will be a negative topic. Low-key discussions held over a long period of time, and discussing alternative transportation arrangements could prove helpful. Be patient with your parents, realizing that they are losing much of their independence and control. This may stir up anger, resentment, sadness and even depression. On the other hand, it could also be a relief.

Comfort Keepers® offers these tips:

Straight talk that allows your parents to feel like adults with a say in the matter will have a better chance for success. Assuring your parents that they will still be able to get around with the help of family or a caregiver may ease your discussion.

 

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