Telling a parent that they need to stop driving is a conversation most of us put off as long as possible. The truth is, it is better to have these conversations as soon as we can. Discuss with Mom or Dad how to plan for a day when driving may no longer be an option. This should be done several times if possible, and long before any drastic measures need to be taken. This is a debilitating blow to their independence. You must choose your words carefully. Be gentile and show concern for safety.
What can I do?
- Have a frank but calm discussion. Several if possible. Ask mom or dad for their input on solutions and brainstorm together.
- Talk to Mom or Dad’s doctor. (Ask the doctor to recommend a driving evaluation.)
- Attempt to get Mom and Dad to commit to doing whatever the driving evaluation results recommend.
- Dismantle the car engine so it will no longer run. For example, disconnect the battery or remove the distributor cap.
- Hide or take away the car keys.
- Contact the DMV to report unsafe driving.
The key is to find Mom and Dad several alternative means of transportation before taking the car away. It is much harder to argue a point when you already have a solution to the problem in place. Examples may be, friends, family, Uber, or a local senior transportation service such as No Place Like Home Senior Care. Ask a family member to commit to taking mom shopping once a week. Have a friend from church volunteer to pick mom up every Sunday for church services. Plan to have a friend from the bridge club come to transport mom to the play bridge every Wednesday evening. Give mom the name and phone number for a local transportation company and tell them they can call at any time and go anywhere they want. They need to be reassured that they will not miss out on anything by giving up driving. Most importantly, you must come through with the promises you make.
Explain that you are concerned for their safety and you want them around for years to come. Your parent may feel they will have fewer trips outside the home. They worry that they will become isolated, have increased dependency on others, fewer social outings, and they fear becoming a burden to family and friends.
What can I say?
Do NOT say “You need to stop driving” or “You shouldn’t be driving anymore.” Instead talk about safety. “I worry about you” or “It would be awful if you were in an accident and hurt yourself or someone else.” Calmly bring up any medical conditions, medications for pain that may cause dizziness, vision problems and hearing loss. Talk about the solutions and alternative ways to get around. Again, family, friends, senior transportation services like No Place Like Home Senior Care. Most importantly, tell them you love them. This is a big blow to their freedom and Independence. The transition can be difficult, and it can take some time to get used to. Speak from the heart. Be patient and diligent, it will get better with time.