When Your Parent Should Not Be Driving

How to Convince Your Elderly Loved One That It is No Longer Safe to Drive

Because people are living so much longer, many aging adults outlive their ability to drive at a safe age. Deteriorating health, vision and hearing impairments, and medication interactions can all contribute to unsafe driving conditions, which injure more than  500  aging adults each day. When you begin to fear your driving parent is a danger behind the wheel, it’s time to get them to stop driving.  


Use the following suggestions to convince your aging parent or loved one to give up their keys without hesitation or frustration.

Figure out how you will approach the subject ahead of time. Take into consideration how your parent may view not driving as another loss of their independence. Determine a way to ease their anxiety without condescending to them or mirroring their emotions. Consider discussing the subject on a day when your parent appears relaxed and well rested.


Your parent may not understand your concern about their driving. Bring up a recent incident or traffic violation. Work through your concern with follow-up questions that will get your loved one thinking about their safety and comfort behind the wheel. Effectively communicating your worries may lead your loved one to a perspective they hadn’t considered.


Your parent may see this discussion as a threat to their remaining independence, making it common for them to object to each of your points. You can use the situation to listen carefully–a strategy that seeks to understand the speaker’s idea and then reflects the idea back to the speaker to indicate the listener understands.


Try not to argue. If the discussion turns into a heated argument, try to stop yourself from interrupting your loved one. Allow them the opportunity to develop and express their thoughts and emotions fully. Remember that no matter how practical the topic, it will also be an emotional one for your parent. Give them the chance to come to terms with their emotions. You should also ask for the same respect if your loved one tries to interrupt you as you speak. If the talk stalls without progress, agree to revisit it at another time once everyone has had enough time to think everything over.


Help them figure out other means of transportation.  Here in Kane County, people can use ‘Ride in Kane’ or RSVP–where a volunteer picks them up and takes them to the doctor. Of course, there’s always cabs and Uber.


Encouraging your parent to stop driving will ease your concerns about their safety and well-being behind the wheel. However difficult, planning your discussion and practicing effective communication can help reduce tension.


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