One of the most difficult conversations an adult child will have with their parent is the one that focuses around their parent’s driving. Many seniors get to the point where they are no longer safe behind the wheel. In many cases, it will be up to the child to initiate the conversation that will convince them that it’s time to put away the car keys. At Premier Senior Home Care we would like to provide you with the resources to making this transition.
Telling a parent that he or she needs to stop driving is a conversation that most adult children put off as long as possible. They are not sure what to say or, most importantly, how to say it in a way that would not be insulting and yet have the desired effect of getting them to stop or seriously limit their driving.
Are Older Drivers at Risk? In fact, seniors as a group are relatively safe drivers. The actual number of accidents involving older drivers decreases as age increases. Experts attribute this to self-imposed limitations that include driving fewer miles and avoiding problematic situations.
However drivers over the age of 75 have a higher risk of being involved in an accident for every mile they drive. The rate of fatalities increases significantly by this age — in fact, it is on par with teenage drivers.
So, what can be done? According to AARP, ongoing conversations with family members can help. A survey of older adults found that more than half said they followed the suggestions of others, with women generally more compliant than men. They may prefer to hear it from their spouse (or from professionals like their doctor), but will listen to their adult children.
Experts believe that while any discussions on driving are likely to be emotional for family members as well, they should not be put off. They suggest the following:
• Be prepared to have multiple conversations.
• Start with appropriate conversation openers.
• Use mishaps or near misses, self-regulation, or health changes as a lead in.
• Observe the senior at the wheel.
• Investigate the alternatives to driving. Discuss your concerns with a doctor.
• If there is initial resistance, suggest that the older adult be tested for an assessment of their driving skills.
• Be supportive.
If you have further questions about approaching your loved one with this issue and would like additional support, please give Premier Senior Home Care a call and we will provide you with additional resources and guidance.