4 Tips for Talking with a Parent about Giving Up Driving

August 19, 2019

Driving represents independence to most adults, including seniors. If you need advice for talking with a loved one about giving up their keys, this will help.

Bringing up the topic of safe driving, or hanging up their keys for good, with a senior parent can be difficult. Adult children typically dread this conversation. It’s often easy to avoid the discussion until a crisis forces the conversation. Hopefully, this will never be the case.

If you are struggling with how to initiate a conversation about driving with a senior you love, we have a few tips that will help.

  1. Demonstrate empathy and kindness.

Before you tackle a sensitive topic like driving, take time to reflect on what this change will mean for your loved one. Not being able to drive can be damaging to a senior’s self-esteem if not handled well. For most people, driving represents independence and freedom.

Giving up driving may also take an emotional toll:

  • Feeling forced to rely on others for transportation
  • Feeling like a burden on a busy loved one’s schedule
  • Feeling frustration at the inability to leave the house freely or without preplanning

Keep these factors in mind as you talk about driving with your senior loved one.

  1. Do some research first.

Before you initiate a conversation about driving with an older loved one, do some research. Explore local transportation services that are accessible and priced fairly. If you create a list of options, so they know they will be able to remain independent, the senior might not be as reluctant to limit or give up driving.

  1. Explore limitations and adaptive equipment.

Some age-related changes can make it more difficult to drive, but that doesn’t always mean the senior should stop driving altogether. Seniors can choose to impose personal limitations on when or how far they drive. There may also be adaptive devices or vehicle modifications that allow a senior to be a safe driver for a few more years.

Consider a few examples that might keep your older loved one driving longer:

  • Avoid nighttime driving: If night vision is an issue, as it is for many seniors, suggest they limit their driving to the daytime.
  • Drive during off-hours: Driving during rush hour can be daunting for people of all ages. Suggest your family member avoid driving during the busiest times of day.
  • Drive only to locations nearby: Encourage your loved one to only drive to locations within a few miles from home, such as to the grocery store or bank. By setting a personal boundary as to how far they drive, seniors can still maintain some independence.
  • Explore adaptive devices: From swivel seat cushions to extra large mirrors, there are a variety of devices designed to overcome common challenges older drivers face. Many are inexpensive and easy to install.
  1. Don’t let age be the primary determinant.

There is no particular age when seniors should stop driving. An older adult’s fitness for driving should be the primary determinant in whether or not it’s time to stop. Is the Senior Driver in Your Family Safe Behind the Wheel has good information and resources for helping you objectively assess a senior’s driving skills.

Transportation Is Available at Legacy Senior Living

One of the most popular services at Legacy Senior Living communities is transportation. Residents rely on it for everything from physician appointments to shopping trips. It’s much easier and less expensive than maintaining a car.

Call us today at 423-478-8071 to learn more!