Having a conversation with your elderly parents about limiting their driving can be one of the most difficult conversations you’ll have. This topic can be so tough because they see their ability to drive as the biggest source of independence. Some red flags to look for are an increase in traffic tickets, damage to the car, hesitancy to drive at night, and a difference in driving behaviors.
If you are noticing any of these warning signs in your loved one, you need to start this conversation. It is important that you sit down and talk with them as soon as possible. Every time they go out, they are more and more likely to harm themselves or other drivers.
Make sure that your expectations are realistic. Expecting them to stop driving after only one discussion isn’t likely. This will be a process that eventually leads to them giving up the keys. You should plan discussing this matter at a quiet point during the day when there are no distractions that could raise stress levels. Talking at a time when you are both at ease can greatly impact the outcome of the conversation.
Not driving is a big change for any individual and helping them with methods to cope with this change is key. Some ideas are:
1. Encourage them to ask for rides from friends. They can return favors in other ways like cooking them a meal.
2. Ask if they would be willing to take the bus. If they live in an urban environment, this can be a great way to get around town and it would allow them to remain independent.
3. Make sure that they are included in all family gatherings. Offer them a ride to every event.
4. Try to check in on them often. Even if it’s just a phone call, it can make all the difference in their attitude.
5. Make yourself available if they need to run quick errands. If you’re in the area, stop by and offer a ride or help them check some things off their list while you’re already out.
6. Provide positive reinforcement reminding them that they are being responsible citizens and doing the right thing for themselves and other drivers.
Remember, this is a process, so don’t expect all of this to happen overnight. Continue to let them know you care about their safety and well-being. Use these tips to make a difficult conversation a little easier!