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7 Signs it’s Time to Have “The Talk” about Driving

One of the harder conversations adult children have with an older parent, relative or loved one is about giving up the car keys. We all treasure our independence, and driving often symbolizes freedom and self-reliance. So it should come as no surprise that older adults are reluctant to give it up. It takes away their control and makes them realize they have to depend on others.

Approaching the subject may not be easy, but handling the conversation with care, empathy and respect for their feelings can facilitate a smoother transition and ensure their well-being in the years ahead. Instead of dwelling on their age, focus on their ability to drive safely, for their sake and the well-being of others on the road.

Here are seven signs that indicate that it’s time to talk with your senior adult about no longer driving:

  1. Dents and Scratches on the Vehicle:If you notice unexplained marks on their car, it could be a sign of trouble with parking or spatial awareness.
  2. Difficulty with Familiar Routes:Struggling to navigate well-known areas may suggest cognitive decline.
  3. Memory Gaps about Recent Journeys:Regular forgetfulness about trips might point to memory impairments that affect driving.
  4. Physical Health Concerns:Issues with vision, hearing, or mobility directly impact driving safety.
  5. Delayed Reaction Times:Slower responses to traffic situations can be concerning.
  6. Increase in Traffic Violations:More frequent tickets or accidents can signal worsening driving abilities.
  7. Avoiding Night or Bad Weather Driving:Hesitation to drive under certain conditions indicates a loss of confidence or capability.

 

Your discussion should emphasize the senior’s safety and the fact that all drivers on the road rely on each other to drive safely. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a more detailed guide, but here are some tips for the conversation:

  • Right Time and Place:Choose a comfortable, distraction-free setting for a thorough discussion at a time that works best for them.
  • Empathy:Show understanding and respect for their feelings about the freedom and control driving provides.
  • Specific Examples:Mention incidents that have raised concerns to make the conversation more concrete.
  • Inclusive Decision-Making:Engage them in the dialogue, allowing them to express their views.
  • Alternative Solutions:Discuss other transportation options, emphasizing safety and continued freedom and control.
  • Reassurance:Offer support and reassure them that stopping driving doesn’t mean losing autonomy.
  • Tell Them about Services like Naborforce:Explain how neighborly help from a Nabor can assist in their transportation needs and reduce their reliance on family members.

 

Remember, this conversation can be challenging, but by approaching it with understanding, patience and a focus on safety and continued freedom and control, you can help them transition smoothly to this new stage of life.

For more insights, check out these resources like this from AARP, and this one from the National Institute of Aging.

And if you have an older adult who needs help getting around town, consider Naborforce. They provide assistance without the need for a contract, with a one-hour minimum. Unlike ride-sharing services, our Nabors can take older adults to medical appointments, wait with them, and then drive them home. Call 844-MYNABOR to book a visit.

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