How to Talk to Your Aging Parents About Their Driving
As your loved ones age, you may begin to feel more personally responsible for their safety and wellbeing. As family member, your voice and compassionate concern for them are crucial to their continued health and longevity. However, it can prove challenging to confront aging family members about the ways they may be endangering themselves.
Driving is one such example. Regardless of physical health, mental status, or frequency of “senior moments,” there comes a point when an older driver becomes a danger to themselves and other drivers. Unexplainable scratches and dents, multiple traffic tickets, and other uncharacteristic or concerning signs may point to the fact that your loved one can no longer drive safely. If you believe your loved one has reached such a point, it is imperative that you act quickly in order to protect them and protect everyone else on the road.
If you think it may be time to talk to your aging loved one about turning in the keys, there are a few things you can do:
1. Don’t put it off. Pick a day and time to talk to your loved one about their driving. Don’t pick something that is so far off that you may forget about it or so up-in-the-air that the time may never come. For example, when selecting a time, avoid ball-parking it (“I’ll talk to him sometime after Christmas….”) and pick a specific date and time (“I’ll talk to him about it over lunch the day after Christmas.”). It can be daunting to initiate such a tough conversation, but committing to a specific time will help you avoid kicking the can down the road.
2. Go on a ride-along. Don’t let your loved one know you are taking mental notes on their driving, but do everything you can to assess their roadway habits up close. If your senior runs through stop signs or red lights, barely avoids colliding with pedestrians or other vehicles, or behaves with uncharacteristic aggression or anxiety while on the road, these may be good reasons to worry. These red flags can also be important talking points when you sit down with them to discuss your concerns.
3. Share your concerns without accusation. Given the challenging nature of such a conversation, it is important to avoid giving your loved one reason to close themselves off to what you are saying. Speaking in a combative or accusatory manner is a surefire way to get them to storm off and refuse to discuss their driving altogether. This can be avoided by using “I” statements, such as “I am worried about your safety”, rather than “you” statements, such as “You are no longer a safe driver.” This is a more effective means of communicating regard and can abate your loved one’s resistance to discussing their driving habits.
4. Practice empathy and offer to be part of the solution. Most people are not immediately thrilled at the idea of becoming dependent on other people for transportation. Many senior citizens worry about becoming isolated, immobile, and cooped up at home. If you come to the table with a few ideas as to how they can continue getting around and offer to help them however possible, they may be more receptive to the idea of giving up their driving privileges.
5. Use force as a last resort. Ultimately, there are ways of forcing your loved one to relinquish their ability to drive. If you believe your senior poses an immediate, serious danger to themselves and other drivers, there are a few avenues available to you. You can consult with their doctor, optometrist, or an official at your local DMV in order to enforce the revocation of your senior’s driving privileges. Be aware that any forceful method is likely to place a relational wedge between you and your loved one, which can contribute to their sense of isolation and loneliness, and strong-arming them should not be your first course of action.
Our Compassionate In-Home Caregivers Are Here to Serve You
Whether your senior needs transportation, company at home, or any other kind of personalized care, At Home Healthcare is here to serve you. We know that caring for an aging loved on comes with unique and complex challenges, and we are committed to lightening the load in any way possible. We have served thousands of people just like you and are prepared to begin serving you as soon as possible.
If you need respite care or any other sort of in-home care for your loved one in Texas, call (877) 959-9093 today.