One of the most difficult decisions an individual or their children will face is when an elderly person should stop driving. Putting the car keys away can feel like a loss of independence, especially if aging has brought on other limitations in a person’s life. Read more
It’s an experience that Americans dread. As recent surveys by Caring.com and the National Safety Council indicate, most people would rather discuss funeral arrangements with their loved ones than taking away their driving privileges. But while this conversation is difficult, it is necessary for the safety of both your loved one and other drivers. I had the opportunity to interview Andy Cohen, CEO of Caring.com, to learn how to best have this conversation.
Build a case.
“A new survey on Caring.com reported that roughly 14 million Americans have been in a road incident caused by an elderly person,” Cohen stated. “It’s a difficult but necessary conversation that we need to have.”
Prepare for this conversation by keeping detailed records of traffic violations, minor accidents, and anything that causes you to worry. Watch for an increase in traffic tickets, getting lost on familiar routes in familiar areas, and getting into more fender benders.
You should also calculate the monetary savings that will benefit your loved one when he or she gives up driving, such the cost of gasoline, maintenance, car insurance, repairs and registration fees. Your approach should be caring, but it also needs to be thorough and specific.
Get support from other sources.
While it’s important to have the conversation directly with your loved one, it can be helpful to ask for support from other sources. Driving assessments can be used to confirm to your loved one that he or she should not be driving. Your religious adviser can help you handle this conversation in a compassionate, loving manner. In some cases, your loved one may listen to recommendations more easily when they come from an outside authority whom your loved one trusts rather than from a family member. As a last resort, you may ask your loved one’s physician to write a prescription stating, “No driving.”
Research and arrange alternative transportation.
Your loved one will undoubtedly find it difficult to give up independence, so the more you can do in advance to have alternative means of transportation available, the easier the transition will be.
A good transportation system will not only take a passenger from point A to point B but will also put your loved one in control of routes and final destinations. Also, the transportation system should maintain a senior’s sense of dignity and security.
“No one wants to be the one to take away Mom or Dad’s keys, but sometimes it can be crucial for their safety,” said Cohen. “Plus, many seniors would actually prefer to hear it from a family member than from a police officer on the road.”
Taking away the car keys is not a conversation anyone wants to have, but remembering to express your concerns firmly and honestly, inviting support from other sources that will provide additional love and support, and arranging alternative forms of transportation to best fit your loved one’s needs is a healthy approach to this transition.
This article was originally published on OCRegister.com. It has been republished here with permission.