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Helping a Senior Parent Decide to Stop Driving

April 9, 2019

Woman helping elderly woman out of driver's seat of car

The choice to stop driving affects many aspects of your parent’s life. For most seniors, driving is much more than a practical way to get somewhere. It’s tied to their sense of freedom and identity. That’s why the decision to stop driving is often so difficult.

As you start to talk with mom or dad about driving, help him or her keep some sense of control. It’s important to consider your loved one’s point of view and work to make the decision together. Use these tips to guide your conversation.

Start Before It’s Critical

Even if mom or dad is still able to drive, you may want to bring up the topic now. It’s easier to talk about possible changes in the future and agree on a plan – before you feel the pressure of serious driving issues. Ask your loved one how you can support them when the day comes to give up the keys. You may find it helpful to use AAA’s free driving planning agreement to review potential scenarios and solutions.

Be Careful With Your Approach

You don’t want mom or dad to get defensive or feel attacked. Focus on what you have observed and then ask for your parent to share. The AARP suggests using “I” statements instead of “you.” For example, “I’m concerned about your safety,” instead of, “You aren’t a safe driver.” Also, make sure you adapt your approach to the specific situation. Consider the right timing to bring up the topic. And, think about who should deliver the message.

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Find Outside Resources

It’s helpful to use the advice of trusted professionals. Has mom or dad talked with your family physician about medical conditions and driving? Has the pharmacist mentioned side effects of medications that might affect alertness or reaction times? Also, your loved one may benefit from a driver safety or refresher course. If concerns are already present, schedule a driving assessment with a licensed professional for guidance.

Plan Alternatives

When your parent stops driving, you’ll want to maintain independence. Follow any concerns with a list of suggestions. You should include family, friends, neighbors, community groups, ride sharing, delivery services, and public transportation options. Be sure to emphasize the benefits of these alternatives. Often, a senior living community can help with transportation needs. Communities provide worry-free transportation to outings, errands, and doctor’s appointments.

Continue the Conversation

Because driving is often a difficult topic, it’s likely you’ll need to talk more than once. At first, you may agree that mom or dad should not drive at night or should limit the distance driven. Celebrate the small changes and find a time to revisit the conversation. In the end, you are an advocate for your parent’s health and safety. Don’t be afraid to keep the conversation going.

Transportation Help

Signature Pointe helps you take the worry out of transportation for your parent. Schedule a visit today to find out how we help seniors maintain independence.

Call 972-726-7575 for more information and to schedule a virtual tour.

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