Difficult Conversations: Approaching Aging Loved Ones About Driving Safety
There are a few difficult conversations we have to have with our aging loved ones as their faculties begin to change.
Some of these changes can deeply affect our ability to drive safely. As our vision and reaction times change, we may not be as sharp as we once were. We may also have trouble with things like remembering directions or staying focused for long periods of time.
The changes to our vision, hearing, and reaction times can make driving an increasingly risky activity. When it comes to dangers of driving, it’s better to err on the side of caution. One bad accident can be too late. So it’s important to have conversations with your loved ones if you feel their driving abilities are venturing into unsafe territory.
Here at Christian Companions we understand just how important the ability to drive is, especially here in Houston, and we’re here to help! There are plenty of ways to help seniors still maintain a sense of independence even when their driving skills are on the decline.
First, let’s cover some signs that it might be time to stop driving:
Signs That It May Be Time to Stop Driving
It can be challenging to know when it's time for an elderly driver to give up their keys. However, there are several signs that can indicate that it may be time to stop driving. Some of these signs can include:
Getting lost while driving in familiar areas
Having close calls or accidents
Difficulty reading signs or distinguishing colors
Slower reaction times
Difficulty turning their head to check blind spots
Difficulty maintaining a safe following distance
Friends or family expressing concern about their driving
If you start to notice any of these signs in your aging loved one, it may be time to have that difficult conversation about setting down the keys.
Talking with Aging Parents: Expert Tips for a Successful Discussion
Approaching the conversation with aging parents about setting down their keys can be challenging. It's important to be respectful and sensitive to their feelings and to expect some resistance and even outright dismissal of your concern. Allow them to express themselves but insist that your concern is coming from a good place and are simply trying to ensure their safety, as well as the safety of others on the road.
Below are a few tips for approaching the conversation:
Choose a time when your parent is relaxed and not distracted
Start the conversation by expressing your love and concern for their safety
Use "I" statements instead of "you" statements to avoid sounding accusatory
Listen to your parent's concerns and try to understand their point of view
Offer alternative transportation options, such as public transportation or ride-sharing services
Consider having a third party, such as a doctor or a driving instructor, talk to your parent about their driving ability
While this conversation may be a tricky one to have, continue to insist that you are concerned first and foremost with safety and not in trying to limit their abilities. Find ways in which you can better sell the alternative options you may be offering them. For example, when offering them the alternative of public transportation options, go along with them to areas and guide them through the process. Some of the resistance you might initially encounter can come from the fear of the unknown. By going along with them and using public transportation, they will become better acquainted with the process and the idea won’t seem so foreign. This makes the scenario more plausible to their future.
Moreover, you can even show them how they’ll actually gain some time for themselves when using public transportation. Show them how they can benefit from reading a book, listening to music, or simply just relaxing and enjoying the scenery as they don’t have to spend their attention on traffic conditions or where they’re heading. Be sure to point out how significantly less stressed they’ll be as well!
Discussing the possibility of giving up driving with aging loved ones can be a tough and emotional conversation, but it’s one that shouldn’t be avoided. If you start to notice signs that it may be time to stop driving, it’s time to have the conversation.
Here at Christian Companions, we understand how important it is for seniors to maintain their independence and we offer in-home caregiving services to help with the changes that come with giving up driving. We can also help you along with beginning the difficult conversation. Moreover, our trained caregivers can provide transportation services and support to help seniors continue to enjoy their lives and even increase their independence. Reach out to us today for a completely free consultation and see how Christian Companions Houston can help your aging loved age in place with grace.