How to Convince a Senior to Give Up Driving

how to convince a senior to give up driving

Relinquishing the car keys is understandably one of the hardest things a senior ever has to do. It is at once an acknowledgment and acceptance that life is no longer the same, and that an individual no longer has complete control over his/her life.

As hard as the decision may be, it is ultimately better to come to an agreement with a senior that it’s time to give up driving than it is for them to have an accident that forces the hand for them – often at the expense of their own/others’ welfare.

5 Strategies for Convincing a Senior it’s Time to Give Up Driving

Over the many years we’ve worked with seniors and their caregivers and/or families, we’ve learned a handful of strategies that can ease the challenging transition from “driver to passenger.”

Keep a discreet list of your concerns

First and foremost, it’s important to be clear about why you think it’s time for a senior to put down their keys for good. Age, alone, is not a good reason to stop driving, so you’ll need to calmly and rationally explain your concerns. Take drives with them along their normal trajectory and keep a discreet list of things you notice or that worried you. This will help to direct the conversation and give you concrete points to address – and for the senior to ponder.

Enlist the help of their primary care provider(s)

If you don’t have a relationship with your elderly parents or loved one’s doctor, now’s the time to establish one. Based on vision tests, medical diagnoses and general observations, your doctor’s wise input can be a tremendous asset when it comes to the driving discussion. This step is particularly poignant if your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s, a diagnosis which should automatically trigger a no-driving lifestyle.

In almost all cases, seniors know deep down it’s time to give up driving, but they are understandably reluctant and may err on the side of defensive and combative when the topic is brought up by a loved one. However, seniors may take the information/recommendations much more graciously when it’s presented by their trusted healthcare provider, and backed up by black-and-white facts and statistics.

Read, Communicating with Your Elderly Parent’s Doctor, for more information.

Schedule an eye exam ASAP

Is it the senior’s vision that’s causing the most concern? For a while, prescription lenses will be enough. However, conditions like macular degeneration or cataracts will progress to a point where even glasses aren’t enough to pass the DMV’s eye exam.

Optimized vision is crucial for an independent lifestyle so seniors should already be prioritizing bi-annual exams with their optometrist. If you feel their vision is impeding their driving, or they’ve recently been involved in an accident, let the optometrist know and s/he can have an equally compelling conversation with your senior loved one about driving privileges.

Create alternative transportation options

Sure, giving up the keys means sacrificing autonomy. However, more importantly, it translates to a loss of social contact and the ability to get around where you want, when you want. Your loved one may take your concerns and advice to heart if they know there are alternative transportation options in place.

Examples include things like:

  • Rides from family/friends attending similar events
  • Volunteer drivers from local churches, religious communities, senior centers, etc.
  • Using Uber or Lyft
  • Public transportation, which offers affordable senior rates
  • Senior-specific Public transportation options

This may also be a good time to get in contact with a licensed home care agency to schedule a free assessment. Home care providers always offer transportation and/or errand running as a service option. Creating a relationship now – when rides are the only thing required – makes it easier to increase support as needed down the road, adding services like companion services, meal preparation, housekeeping, and so on.

Treat the subject with respect, and expect it to take time

Unless the senior is very accepting or is so concerned him/herself that your conversation comes as a relief – you will be met with resistance. You may also be greeted with a very strong emotional response when confronted with the idea to give up driving, whether anger, sadness, grief, frustration, or all of the above.

For that reason, treat the subject (and your loved one) with the respect it deserves. Honor how difficult this is and how hard it would be for you to be in the reverse position. Remain calm and put a pause on the conversation if it gets heated, agreeing to come back to it at a scheduled time in the very near future.

Are you interested in working with a senior home care agency that offers driving and errand running services? Contact the team here at HomeAide Home Care to schedule a consultation or learn more about our senior-specific services.

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