Elderly driving can be worrisome and risky. It can be difficult to have a discussion with elderly parents about giving up their car keys, but it’s usually in their best interest. Age-related conditions commonly affect a senior’s ability to drive a vehicle safely. The outcome can be fatal. Every day, 19 seniors are killed in car accidents, and another 712 sustain injuries.
When you decide to talk with your parent to convince them to stop driving, it’s best to be prepared to make sure the talk is effective. Here are some tips for convincing your elderly parents to stop driving – for their own safety.
Bringing it Up
It’s important to bring up the issue with the right tone to prevent your elderly parent from being defensive or angry. Having a strong or demanding tone can prevent the discussion from being productive. Instead, consider asking your parent about their driving skills, and whether or not they’re having any difficulties. You can even provide them with a self-evaluation tool for senior driving.
More than likely, your parent has already noticed their own mistakes and may express their concerns when asked. If your parent expresses their concerns, be patient and listen without interrupting. Being an effective listener helps set a positive tone and shows your parent your concerns come from a place of caring, not controlling.
Dealing with Objections
Your loved one may be resistant to the idea of not driving. They may respond with objections in the form of the reasons why they can’t stop driving. For example, they may point out that they must drive because of appointments and errands. If they respond in this way, it may be your loved one’s way of expressing that they are aware of their deteriorating driving ability and would consider giving up their keys if they had another way to travel.
If your elderly parent does become angered by the discussion, give it a rest. Anger will only cause them to become resistant and tune you out. It may take your parent some time to come to terms with the idea of giving up driving. Allow them some time to reflect on your discussion before bringing up the issue again.
Consider asking your elderly parent if they need help with transportation. Offer to drive them to their next errand or appointment, or arrange transportation service for them. Encourage them to ask a friend or family member for a ride when they need one. Changing up their driving routine may help your elderly parent see that they have a choice, and it is easier to accept help instead of continuing to drive.
You can also encourage your loved one to pursue different hobbies at home to reduce their driving time. Instead of driving to the senior center for activities, they could try gardening at home. Invite them to family functions or out to lunch and provide the transportation so they don’t feel left out. Consider a medical alert device with a two-way communication function so your parent can stay connected with you and have a means of seeking help in an emergency. Use an independent review site to find the best medical alert system for your parent.
Consult a Doctor
If your elderly parent is having trouble driving safely, find out if a medical problem is causing the issue. Help them visit with their primary care doctor and an eye doctor to get routine checkups. This can help rule out an undiagnosed issue, or a problem that may require a different medication, or even stronger eyeglasses.
A medical professional may agree that your elderly parent’s medications or medical conditions interfere with safe driving. Consider going with your parent to their doctor appointment, and asking the doctor whether or not your parent’s condition impairs their driving. Be sure to ask about interactions and side effects from medications. The doctor may suggest limiting driving habits to daytime hours, taking a senior driving course, or stop driving altogether.
It may take some time to convince your elderly parent to give up their driving habits. Your parent may feel that giving up their car keys is one of their last pieces of independence. It’s important to be sympathetic to this struggle and focus on keeping your parent safe. With time and patience, your parent may see your point of view and agree to stop driving for their own safety.
Furthermore, People with disabilities may face unique challenges regarding their independence as well. While many take driving for granted, those with disabilities can require vehicle modifications in order to make driving possible. Unfortunately, the cost of these modifications may put them out of reach for many. I wanted to share this guide to car modifications that may help anyone you know who needs such assistance.