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How to Talk to Your Senior Parent About Driving

April 9, 2019

Woman helping elderly woman out of driver's seat of car

Driving is often a concern for children of aging parents. And, you may find you have many questions as you think about the topic. How do I know if mom or dad is still a safe driver? When is the right time to stop? How do I bring up my concerns?

The most important thing when it comes to talking with your parent about driving is to make sure he or she feels involved in the conversation. Driving isn’t just about getting from one point to another. For many seniors, it is an essential part of their independence and identity. Use these tips to guide your conversation.

Start Early

Many adult children find it easier to slowly ease into the conversation. That’s why it may be helpful to bring up the conversation while mom or dad is still driving well. Then, make a plan together for future driving needs. To help, AAA offers a driving planning agreement to use as you think through potential changes in abilities or future safety concerns.

Pick the Right Approach

Don’t immediately call for mom or dad to give up the keys. Instead, try to keep the conversation positive and focused on working to together. Avoid assumptions about your parent’s driving if you can’t support them with actual facts. Also, think through who in your family might be best to bring up the topic. Typically, it’s better to pick one trusted person so that your loved one doesn’t feel overwhelmed.

Get Outside Help

Your loved one may respond better to guidance from professionals. Ask your parent to speak with his or her doctor and pharmacist. They can give guidance about the effects of medical conditions and medications on driving. Many communities also offer driver safety or refresher courses. If you’re still concerned, consider doing a professional driving assessment.

Come Prepared

If your goal is to ask mom or dad to give up driving, be prepared with alternatives. Make a list of family, friends, neighbors, and other groups who can provide transportation. And, be sure to include the benefits of each option. Also, consider how a senior living community could fit into your parent’s needs. For example, most communities offer independence through scheduled outings and transportation to appointments or errands.

Revisit the Conversation

In most cases, driving decisions will take more than one conversation with mom or dad. At first, you may compromise with your parent by having mom or dad take shorter trips or avoid driving at night. The AARP recommends planning several conversations and says to not feel guilty bringing up the topic multiple times. After all, you simply want what’s best – and safe – for your loved one.

Transportation Help

Monticello West helps you take the worry out of transportation for your parent. Schedule a visit today to find out how we help seniors maintain independence.

Call 214-528-0660 to schedule a virtual tour and learn how Monticello West can help.

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