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There is no feeling of freedom like a sixteen-year-old with a driver’s license. Getting behind the wheel of your first car is an early milestone in everyone’s life. It is one reason why it is so challenging to have a conversation about when to stop driving with an aging loved one.  

The truth is that there comes a time in everyone’s life when they have to ask themselves if it is still safe to stay on the road. Often, if you’ve noticed your loved one is having a hard time navigating from the driver’s seat safely, it has crossed their mind. Driving requires physical and cognitive ability that can start deteriorating at any age. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, age-related declines in vision and the ability to reason or remember are some of the leading causes that impair older adults’ driving skills.

When To Talk To Your Loved One

According to AARP, if you’re not exactly sure of the warning signs that it is time for a loved one to limit or stop driving, there are common indicators it is time to have an honest and compassionate talk about addressing the next steps. 

 

  • Delayed response to unexpected situations
  • Becoming distracted while driving
  • Decrease in confidence while driving
  • Having difficulty moving into or maintaining the correct lane of traffic
  • Hitting curbs when making right turns or backing up
  • Getting scrapes or dents on car, garage or mailbox
  • Having frequent close calls
  • Driving too fast or too slow for road conditions

How to Have The Conversation

Having a conversation about handing over the car keys can be complicated and emotional for someone on the receiving end. It can feel like a loss of independence for someone who has been driving themselves for decades. 

Find The Right Space

Don’t have the conversation in a room full of people or make jokes out of your loved ones “little missteps” behind the wheel. Instead, choose a quiet place where you can have a heart-to-heart. It may not be a comfortable conversation, but it will have a better outcome if you come for a spot of vulnerability and empathy. 

Have A Plan For Transportation 

Come to the conversation with alternatives. After years of driving themselves, loved ones could believe that they’ll simply be stuck at home or become entirely dependent on others’ schedules if they’d like to leave the house. Create a plan with your family to have “on-call” days when they’re available to provide transportation. You can supplement with alternative forms of transportation, such as ride-shares or the help of an at-home care aid. 

Bring In Professional Help

Seek professional help for a doctor or caregiver. Having an outside opinion from a trusted provider can help put the gravity of the situation into perspective. Their presence and expertise will add clout to the conversation, especially if you’re an adult trying to ask your elderly parents to hand over the car keys once and for all. 

It is not always easy to have a conversation about when it is time for an older loved one to stop driving. It is an important one, however. Knowing when and how to be prepared for a talk will make it easier one both parties. 

 

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