It is a discussion no one wants to have with senior parents, but one that will likely be imperative at some point. To be able to drive wherever and whenever we choose is a key component to our feeling of freedom, yet as we age, driving can become unsafe for a number of reasons: poor vision, decreased reflex and response times, cognitive problems, and more. If you are starting to have doubts about an older loved one’s ability to continue to drive safely, it is time to discuss giving up the car keys.
How Can You Tell When Driving Is No Longer an Option?
There are many warning signs to look out for that indicate when driving is no longer an option, including:
- Becoming lost on familiar driving routes
- Missing traffic signals or signs
- Not yielding or cutting off other drivers
- Making wider turns than necessary
- An inability to stay between the lines
- Coming across as inattentive or sleepy
- Having trouble judging distances
- Getting frustrated, angry, or agitated
- Not using turn signals or mirrors accordingly
How Can You Initiate the Discussion About Giving Up the Keys?
Above all, avoid criticizing or correcting the older adult’s errors as they are driving, as this can result in additional dangerous behaviors. After the car is parked, calmly describe specific areas of concern that you noticed as a starting point to the larger discussion about the need for the senior to cease driving.
The following tips are a good way to move the conversation forward and to make certain you are being heard and taken seriously. Use the conversation to lower the senior’s stress senior and to provide a solution that will empower the individual to maintain independence.
Key Points to Bear in Mind:
- Solicit the help of others the senior knows and trusts, either in offering their own examples of concerns or perhaps in joining you when it is time for the conversation.
- Avoid shaming or blaming the senior.
- Keep your temperament calm and supportive to make sure you do not come across as angry.
- Use specific examples of worrisome actions.
- Let the individual know you’re in this together, and that together you are going to find a solution that ensures safety for the senior as well as other drivers and pedestrians.
- Anticipate opposition and defensiveness, and that it may take multiple conversations.
If the senior remains insistent about continuing to drive, schedule a checkup and consultation with the doctor. There could be medication side effects, vision problems, or other health-related reasons for driving difficulties that can be fixed; or, the doctor may have more influence in convincing the senior to give up the keys.
How Can a Senior Stay Independent Without Being Able to Drive?
Thankfully, there is a simple solution that allows an older adult to get around as they wish: a professional in-home caregiver from Inspired Home Care, one of the top caregiver agencies in Chicago and the surrounding communities.
Our caregivers are available to provide transportation and accompaniment whenever and wherever a senior wants to go, including:
- Medical appointments and procedures
- Running errands and shopping
- Social outings with friends
- Going out to lunch or for a walk in the park
- Hair and nail appointments
- Exercise or other classes
- Even vacations or longer-destination outings
The best part? A caregiver can provide friendly company and conversations that make any journey more enjoyable than going alone!