Talking to Your Aging Parent About Driving
The topic of driving may be a difficult one to approach with your senior parent. For many, it is hard because driving is so closely tied with independence. As your parent ages, he or she most likely wants to maintain as much control as possible over daily living – including getting to where he or she wants to go.
When it comes to driving safety for your parent, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s important to stay positive and focus on making decisions as a team. Use these tips to get the conversation started and help your loved one have a say about his or her driving needs.
Even if mom or dad is still driving well, now is the time to bring up the topic. You want to make a long-term plan together before concerns happen. That way, when abilities do change, you’ve already agreed on the next step. AAA offers a free driving planning agreement that may help you think through potential future changes and needs.
Tailor Your Approach
You know your parent, so be sure to tailor your approach to his or her personality. Are you the best person to bring up driving? Or maybe another trusted friend or family member would be better? The AARP stresses the importance of listening to your loved one’s viewpoint and always showing compassion. It’s also important to avoid generalizations about senior drivers that may not apply to mom or dad’s unique situation.
Use Outside Help
Sometimes, it helps to use outside resources. Ask if your loved one has talked to a physician about how medications or medical conditions could affect reaction times, depth perception, or alertness. Suggest that your loved one take a driving safety course. Even more, schedule a professional driving assessment with an occupational therapist. These resources offer an unbiased perspective.
Bring alternatives to the table that will help mom or dad stay independent. Be sure you have a list of family, friends, or community groups who can help with rides or errands. Research public transportation options. You might also consider how a senior living community fits into the picture. Communities offer help with grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, or other errands.
Keep the Conversation Going
Most likely, you’ll need to talk to mom or dad about driving multiple times. So, don’t be afraid to bring up the topic again if you don’t make much progress the first time. At first, you may agree together to make small changes – like avoiding driving at night. Because driving safety is so important, it’s worth the effort to make sure you come to a solution.
Autumn Leaves 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 214-328-4161 to schedule a tour and learn more about how Autumn Leaves may help.