It’s not an easy task to tell your aging parent or loved one that they are no longer fit to drive. It’s a sensitive and uncomfortable topic, but sooner or later you’ll need to have the talk. Remember that giving up the car keys means more than just giving up driving – it’s about losing control, freedom, and independence, so this subject will have to be broached carefully. Here are some helpful tips on how to make this conversation as easy and successful as possible.
Don’t wait to have the conversation
Just because your loved one hasn’t had a major driving accident, doesn’t mean they are safe on the road. The key is to speak to them before an accident occurs. Look for warning signs of unsafe driving, such as delayed reaction times, vehicle dents/scratches, or trouble with directions. It may take more than just one conversation, so give your loved one some time to warm up to the idea. It will make the decision to give up the keys much easier.
Choose the right person to speak to your loved one
This is a sensitive topic, so don’t stage an intervention with your entire family present. Instead, choose one or two people that your parent or loved one responds best to and discuss the topic in a comfortable environment. Additionally, make sure your whole family is on the same page. Not only will this reinforce your point but also ensure that your loved one has a wide range of support throughout the entire process.
Don’t be surprised if your loved one is resistant to the idea, pushes back, or even gets upset. It may be a matter of safety and common sense to you, but to them it’s another reminder of their declining health and inability to no longer care for themselves. Even if you feel like a strong, forceful approach is the only way to get your point across, avoid confrontation as much as possible. Always come from a supportive, understanding, and respectful place.
Losing the ability to drive often means losing who you see, who you depend on, and what activities you can pursue. The goal is to provide your loved one with alternatives that allow for independence even in the absence of driving. For some, this may mean modifying current driving habits – for example, driving only to familiar areas or during daytime hours. For others, public transportation and help from family/friends may be more viable options. Another alternative is to introduce activities that don’t require driving, such as gardening, exercising, and crafting.
Look at other medical issues
Health problems such as poor vision/hearing, memory loss, slowed reflexes, and conflicting medications could be causing driving issues for your loved one or making them worse. Speak to a medical professional if your senior is experiencing any medical issues and express your concerns about his/her driving abilities so that the physician can provide the best recommendation possible.
We know that the health and safety of your senior is a top priority. If driving is no longer a safe activity for your aging senior, remember that a reputable home care company, like Home Care by ALTRES Medical, can help with basic living tasks that do require driving, such as grocery shopping and doctor’s appointments.
For more information about Home Care by ALTRES Medical’s services, call 591-4930.