Convincing an elderly driver to stop driving might be one of the more difficult conversations you have to have with an aging parent. Losing the ability to drive can feel scary and embarrassing to many people. It’s a confirmation that they are truly aging and beginning to lose some of their independence. However, it’s important to make sure that they are not putting themselves or other drivers on the road in unsafe scenarios. Begin the conversation early on, and revisit it as many times as you need to. Come prepared with alternative options for them to get places. If you must, get their doctor involved or even the DMV. And finally, if they refuse and present danger, remove their car or keys. This is one of the stickier situations that you might face with aging family members, but it’s important for their safety.
Convincing an Elderly Driver to Stop Driving: How to Have the Tough Conversation
Begin the Conversation Early
If you have an elderly driver that you are concerned about, it’s best to start the conversation early. You should begin this conversation at the first sign of trouble. Older drivers often get nervous behind the wheel. For example, they might hesitate to make moves or make unsafe ones. In addition, they might get confused about directions easily. If you are noticing any of these things, it’s time to begin the conversation. Tell them that you have something important you’d like to discuss and make sure to reassure them you are coming from a place of love.
When discussing giving up driving with an elderly driver, it’s a great idea to have some alternatives in mind when you start the discussion. For example, if they live in a care facility or retirement community, there might be transportation available as a service. Or they might be able to take public transport. If your schedule allows, you can also offer to help them get to where they need to go.
Get Their Doctor Involved
If your elderly driver is reluctant to discuss giving up their vehicle, then it’s time to take the next step. Many older parents fight this conversation and don’t want to continue talking about it. However, you need to make sure you are doing everything to keep them safe. You can ask that their doctor discuss it with them at their next appointment. In addition, their doctor can report them to the DMV, or you can yourself. The DMV will likely keep it private who reported them but will require them to come and re-take their driving test.
Remove the Car or Keys
Finally, if you are getting nowhere with an elderly driver, it’s time for more drastic measures. The bottom line is that you are doing what is best for them to prevent injuries to them and others on the road. It’s time to either disable the car, remove it altogether, or remove their keys. One way to do this more gently is to ask to borrow their car and then “forget” to give it back until hopefully, they drop the situation. For many elderly people, if the car and keys are out of sight, they are out of mind. Hopefully, when they give up driving temporarily, they’ll see that it is doable and be more open to giving up driving altogether.
Unfortunately, the conversation about an elderly driver stopping driving can be a painful one. Many people specifically dread this point in their lives. They might feel panic, shame, embarrassment, indignation, or sadness. However, the most important thing is to keep them and others safe. Start the conversation early and at the first sign of any weakening driving skills. Speak calmly and come from a place of love. Bring ideas of alternative transportation with you so they don’t feel like they are losing their independence. If needed, ask their doctor to step in and mention it or report them to the DMV. And finally, if they are insistent, take their keys or car away from them. It might be painful to do so, but you are doing what is right for them and the safety of others on the road