Driving a car is more than getting from one place to another; a car represents independence and freedom for most people, especially older Americans. As your loved ones age and safe driving becomes a concern, it can be difficult to know how to talk to them about handing over the keys.
When it comes time to talk to your aging loved one about driving, sometimes it can be helpful to start by listening. Ask them some very specific, carefully worded questions to get them talking about their safe driving experiences.
Questions Regarding Safe Driving for Seniors
- Do you feel your reflexes are slower than they were ten years ago?
- Have you had any accidents?
- When was your last written driving test?
- When was your last behind the wheel driver’s test?
- Do you still have insurance?
- When were your eyes last tested?
- Do you see pedestrians or do they surprise you?
- Do you drive at night? How is that?
- How often do you miss your exit off of the freeway?
- Can you read all the signs in time to appropriately react?
- Have you ever been lost in a familiar part of town?
- Have far are you driving at a time?
- Do you ever worry about your driving?
- What will you do when you can’t drive anymore?
Often, when people begin to hear their own replies to these questions, they may realize that driving has become a bigger concern than they realized. By opening the door to communication, you’re giving your senior citizen the chance to see for themselves, instead of becoming defensive when you express your concerns.
With time and reflection, you may find that it’s time for your loved one to limit his or her driving, or to stop driving all together. This can be a difficult step. Driving is a form of independence, and most people will do everything they can to keep from giving it up. Have a plan in place to help ensure that your loved one will still have the freedom to go out and do things, and not find themselves stuck at home alone.
- If you’re able, hire a driver a few days a week.
- Consider opening a charge account with a local taxi service
- Ask younger friends or relatives to provide safe driving services, and set up a schedule.
- Find out if there is public transportation available.
Reassure them that you will help them through this transition, and listen to their concerns. Realize that the loss of freedom is a difficult feeling, and try to put yourself in their shoes. Giving up driving privileges can be a tough but important decision, but in the end it’s the their safety and that of others on the road that must come first. By taking time to both listen and discuss, you can ease the pain of this transition.