Taking Away the Keys: How Do you Do That?

elderly-driverIt has been a journey of many miles to get to this point: you think your parent/aunt/uncle/friend should stop driving as s/he is no longer safe on the road. But how do you do that to this person when they have already lost so much?

Well, first, you should have the conversation about WHEN to stop driving long before it is a problem. Early conversation about this and having guides that you both agree to long before we get to that point establishes a pattern of ongoing communication about how to age well. Further, you are getting “buy in” that there will come a time when this is necessary. The topic at this time should be about safety for the person and other drivers and guidelines we can go by in the future. This takes the edge off the conversation and keeps it from being personal.

Here are some examples of how this conversation can be easily woven into normal conversation:

When a bad accident has occurred: talk about how much busier the roads have become and how driving isn’t as easy as it once was. Reaction times, complexity of cars, etc. You are planting seeds of thought about this.

If a person stops driving at night: talk about how you are glad they have made that decision as you wouldn’t want them driving if they were uncomfortable or unsure of their ability to react well to night driving conditions.

If there is a change in medication or if the person mentions getting lost in a familiar area: suggest that they talk to their doctor about how their new medication may influence their reaction times or driving skills. If the person has been lost or disoriented, it is definitely time to involve the doctor in this discussion.

So the bottom line is: start early, talk about it naturally and often so that when the time comes it is not a shock. It has become a natural progression of aging well and safely.

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