Life is full of difficult decisions, many of which are emotionally charged and require us to help make choices to protect those we love. Having a discussion with an elderly loved one about their driving ability and safety can be awkward to say the least. Avoiding or turning a blind eye to the topic will only hurt your loved one and put both themselves and others at risk. Although it may be uncomfortable, it’s necessary to know when and how to engage in conversation.
Dialogue between family members is encouraged. Being pro-active and holding a discussion prior there being a problem can reinforce driving safety issues and can allow time for the older adult to consider and modify their driving skills. During a survey, more than half of the older adult participants expressed willingness to take suggestions about driving safety simply because someone had talked to them.
If you have difficulty or encounter extreme resistance, consider having additional conversations with family members, doctors, or even law enforcement officials if necessary. Depending on the situation, a doctor may take a primary role in the assessment by evaluating the patient’s visual, cognitive, and motor skills. Some may even refer a concerned patient to an independent party or therapist who is qualified to perform a comprehensive driving evaluation. Aside from family, 27% of older adults that are married and 40% single or widowed prefer to hear from their doctor about whether or not they should be driving.
In extreme situations, when an older driver refuses to respond to any type of conversation, you may have to consider more extreme measures. Cancelling registration, insurance, or having a driver’s license revoked may seem like a good plan, however, this might not prevent the older adult from continuing to operate a vehicle. Although it can seem aggressive, disabling the car, filing down keys, or taking the car away may result in a safer and more final outcome.
Limiting or giving up driving altogether for an older adult is a delicate issue that requires an enormous amount of love and support from friends and family members. Like many of life’s decisions, it may be difficult at first, but the transitioning of your loved one from a driver to a passenger will gradually occur over time. Being involved and helping to incorporate this change in an older driver’s life can give yourself and your entire family peace of mind. Start your conversation today!