Talking to Your Elderly Parents About Their Driving
Other than teenagers, senior citizens are the cause of more automobile accidents than any other group of drivers. Old age brings problems like decreased reaction times, worsening of eyesight and hearing, and potentially general lapses of judgment. All of these combine to make senior citizens a potential hazard to themselves and others on the road. Talking to your elderly parents about driving, however, is a touchy subject. Many studies have found that adult children actually feel more uncomfortable talking about that with elderly parents then they do discussing funeral plans and wills. So what’s the best way to bring it up?
Take a Ride
Before anything else, take a ride with your parent to assess just how bad the problem has gotten. Maybe it can be fixed easily like getting stronger glasses or hearing aids, maybe it can’t. Watch for any indication of deteriorated driving ability.
Remember how you felt when you got your license? That sense of freedom and independence? If you ever had to stop driving for a while (medical reasons, car’s in the shop, etc.), you also know how big of a loss that can be. Now multiply that by the amount of years your parents have been driving. When you approach the subject, remember that this is a major loss of independence for them so be sympathetic to that. Above all, make sure to communicate that this is because you care for their safety, and not just something to undermine their independence.
Make sure that if you’re taking away their keys, you aren’t leaving them stranded. Set up a system for rides with friends and family, a regular cab, a driver, or whatever else. Just don’t leave them hanging. If they live in a retirement home, there are most likely transport options available to them there as well.
If your parents are still refusing to cooperate, you may just have to request retesting. A lot of seniors have licenses only because their last renewal won’t expire for a long time. Depending on state laws, you may be able to request retesting anonymously or have a physician request it for you.