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Talking About Driving With Your Senior Parent

woman helping elderly woman out of car

As your parent ages, you may have concerns about driving. How do you know when it’s time to for mom or dad to give up the keys? And, what is the best way to start the conversation?

The thought of letting go of driving may be hard for your loved one. After all, driving is often very connected to a person’s identity and independence. That’s why it’s important to give mom or dad a sense of control over the decision. Use these tips to help you talk through driving concerns and make a decision together.

Begin the Conversation Early

You’ll be more successful in expressing any concerns and finding agreement if you start early. Ideally, you should talk with your parent while he or she is still driving well. It’s often easier to talk about the future and come to an agreement now, instead of when true safety issues arise. To support families in making educated driving choices together, the AAA offers a free driving planning agreement that you may find helpful.

Consider Your Approach

The best approach is full of empathy and listening. It typically isn’t a good idea to start the conversation by demanding mom or dad give you the keys. Think through the best person to bring up the topic. And, think about timing as well. Does your parent need help with an errand, or does the car need maintenance? Find moments that naturally allow you to ask how your parent is doing with driving.

Find Outside Help

Your approach may be better received when supported by others. Suggest that mom or dad take a driver safety course. Even more, schedule a driving assessment with an occupational therapist who can provide professional feedback. You can also ask your loved one if his or her doctor has reviewed any concerns related to medical conditions and driving.

Have Another Plan

Once you talk about driving concerns, be prepared with a list of alternatives. Your list might include friends, neighbors, family members, organizations, public transportation, and delivery services. Also, think about how a senior living community might help. With built-in transportation to the grocery store, appointments, and more, communities often provide independence without the need to drive.

Revisit the Topic as Needed

Don’t hesitate to bring up the topic of driving several times. Complex topics often take a series of conversations. In the beginning, your mom or dad may agree to small changes. The AARP encourages you to be supportive of any changes your loved one decides to make. For example, your loved one could reduce trips or limit driving at night. Your parent’s safety is important, so keep talking openly and respectfully as driving needs change.

Transportation Help

Parkwood 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 817-354-1044 for more information.