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  • Cameron Oglesby

How do you tell a parent it’s time to stop driving?

Updated: Jul 25, 2022

Last week, I wrote about how aging can affect driving safety. It affects different drivers in different ways, and some older drivers are safer behind the wheel than others.

What if your father or mother falls into the second category?

How do you get them to accept the potentially life-saving news without triggering all sorts of resentment and bitterness?

Try following these four steps:

1. Ascertain how big the problem really is:

  • · Have there been several fender-benders or near misses lately?

  • Are there new dents in the car?

  • Are there vision, hearing, movement, or other health problems that can affect driving ability?

  • Have there been two or more traffic tickets or warnings within the last two years?

  • · Did their car insurance premiums go up because of driving issues?

2. Ride shotgun with your parent and see for yourself:

  • Do other drivers often honk at the car when your parent’s driving?

  • Does your parent have trouble staying in lane?

  • Is he using his turn signals?

  • Can she turn her head enough to check mirrors, blind spots, and surroundings?

  • Does he get distracted while driving?

  • Does she have trouble moving her foot between the gas and brake pedals or sometimes confuse the two?

3. Prepare yourself:

  • Identify your parent’s transportation needs.

  • Learn about, and be ready to discuss, all the public and commercial alternatives for getting around.

4. Have the talk:

  • Avoid confrontation by using “I” messages instead of “You” messages. “I’m worried about your safety when you’re driving,” rather than “You’re no longer a safe driver.” That way the focus is on loving concern instead of accusation.

  • Focus on safety and maintaining independence. Reassure your parent that he or she can still enjoy all the same out-of-home activities without having to personally drive to them.

  • Be positive and supportive. Losing driving privileges can feel like losing independence and freedom, so it’s only natural that your parent may become defensive, angry, hurt, or withdrawn. That’s the time to reassure that you’ll work together for a solution and discuss the different solutions you investigated in Step 3.

Swapping your driver’s license for a Virginia ID card doesn’t mean being grounded for life. While the Richmond metropolitan area isn’t as big on public transportation as other cities, it does exist here. Many religious and civic groups have volunteers who can drive your parents where they need to go. So can family members, neighbors, and friends – especially if those friends happen to be going to the same place or activity. (And it would be nice to buy them gas from time to time, especially at today’s inflated prices.)

Speaking of prices, Uber and Lyft rides look a lot cheaper when you add them up and compare the total to the cost of maintenance, gas, oil, insurance and monthly payments for a car of your own.

At Senior Insights, we can provide safe, reliable drivers at reasonable cost. If that’s all your parents need, that’s all they pay for. And if more help’s needed, our thorough three-part assessment of a client’s physical, emotional, cognitive, and psychosocial care needs will lead to a holistic senior care management plan geared to their specific needs, values, preferences, and desire for freedom and independence.

Please contact us to learn what a difference that can make.

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