Talking to your loved one about no longer driving can be a tedious and sensitive topic for a number of reasons. Some senior drivers may be aware of their faltering ability but are still unwilling to give up driving for good. So, your concern may force them to act, since they have someone else to help them make the decision to stop driving.
Some seniors may forget that they aren’t supposed to drive, and in those cases, it is even more important to remove the car or the keys to make it impossible to drive.
If you have to speak with an older friend or family member about their driving, remember the following:
- Be respectful. For many seniors, driving is a vital part of their independence, but at the same time, don’t be intimidated or back down if you have a sincere concern.
- Give specific examples. Generalisations are easily tuned out, so be specific. Outline concerns that you have noticed, such as “You have a harder time turning your head than you used to,” or “You often miss stop signs at intersections.”
- Find strength in numbers. If more than one family member or close friend has noticed, it is more likely to be taken seriously. A loved one may also listen to a more impartial party, such as a doctor or driving specialist.
- Help find alternatives. The person may be so used to driving that they have never considered alternatives. You can offer concrete help, such as offering to be their ride, arranging for a taxi service to chauffeur them around or talk to them about suitable public transportation options.
- Understand the difficulty of the transition. Your loved one may feel at a loss having given up driving, so don’t dismiss their feelings but try to help them with the transition as much as possible. If it is safe, try slowly transitioning the senior out of driving to give them time to adjust. For example, they may begin the transition by no longer driving at night or on busy streets, or by carpooling with others.