Talking To Your Elderly Loved One About Giving Up Driving
Imagine having a beloved grandmother who has been driving her entire adult life, valuing her independence and relishing the freedom driving provides. Recently, you’ve noticed she has become forgetful and easily confused, getting lost on familiar routes, and has even had a few close calls while driving. You’re worried she is no longer safe behind the wheel, but you’re not sure how to approach the subject with her. You don’t want to upset or embarrass her, but you also don’t want her to place herself or others at risk. You know you need to have a conversation with her about giving up her driver’s license, but you’re not sure where to start or how to broach the topic.
Talking to an elderly loved one about giving up their driver’s license can be a difficult and emotional conversation. For many seniors, driving represents independence and freedom, and giving up that privilege can feel like a major loss. However, it’s important to recognize safety must come first, and if your loved one is no longer able to drive safely, it’s important to address the issue.
Tips on How to Approach This Sensitive Topic
Before you initiate the conversation, take some time to plan out what you want to say and how you want to say it. Consider the potential emotional response from your loved one and how you can best address their concerns.
Choose the Right Time and Place
Make sure you have the conversation in a private and comfortable setting. Choose a time when your loved one is well-rested and not distracted by other things.
Your loved one may feel defensive or embarrassed about their driving abilities, so it’s important to approach the conversation with respect and empathy. Acknowledge their feelings and concerns and let them know you understand how difficult this may be for them.
Focus on Safety
Emphasize your concern is for their safety and the safety of others on the road. Provide specific examples of instances where their driving has become unsafe, like getting lost or confused while driving or experiencing near misses.
Explore alternative modes of transportation your loved one can use to maintain their independence, like public transportation, ride-sharing services, or community transportation programs.
Consider enlisting the help of other family members, friends, or healthcare providers to reinforce the importance of giving up driving for safety reasons.
Giving up driving can be a major life transition, so it’s important to be supportive and understanding during this process. Offer to help your loved one find alternative transportation options and continue to check in on their well-being.
This Conversation May Not Be Resolved in One Sitting.
It may take multiple conversations to reach a decision everyone is comfortable with. Be patient and continue to emphasize the importance of safety.
Having a conversation with an elderly loved one about giving up their driver’s license can be difficult, but it’s important to prioritize safety. By planning ahead, being respectful, focusing on safety, offering alternatives, involving others, and being supportive, you can help your loved one transition to alternative transportation options and maintain their independence.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, January 10). Older Adult Drivers. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/older_adult_drivers/index.html Mayo Clinic. (2021, December 8). Older Drivers: 7 Tips for Driver Safety. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/older-drivers/art-20046397 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2022, January). Older Drivers. Retrieved from https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/older-drivers National Institute on Aging. (2022, February 24). Aging and Driving: When It's Time to Hit the Brakes. Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/aging-and-driving-when-its-time-hit-brakes American Automobile Association. (n.d.). Senior Driving. Retrieved from https://www.aaa.com/safety/senior-driving American Association of Retired Persons. (n.d.). Driver Safety. Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/auto/driver-safety/