Family caregivers and their senior loved ones face transitions on a daily basis. Dietary changes, medication changes, and adaptations in activities are but a few of the lifestyle changes that adult children may address with aging parents. Often, one of the most difficult topics to address revolves around senior driving concerns. Dementia, failing eyesight, slowed reflexes and other diminished abilities can make limitations on driving a very difficult topic for some family members to address.
Get second, and even third opinions about senior driving concerns
One way to make this situation at least a little easier is to involve others in the decision, including the aging parents or other seniors who are directly affected, as well as doctors, family members, and friends.
If you feel that driving is becoming or is likely to become a dangerous activity, have a conversation with those who are in a position to help you. Consider consulting your spouse, siblings, other relatives, and friends of the loved one in question. Let them know that you have observed signs that make you concerned and ask if they have noticed anything similar.
Let them know that you want to be prepared to talk with your loved one about this and would like their opinions and advice on how to approach it. Explain that you are especially interested in coming up with practical ideas as well; if your loved one can no longer drive, you will need to have “helping hands” in place so that you are not left with the responsibility of doing all the driving.
Be prepared for the fact that some of these people may not believe that driving is an issue for your loved one. Listen to why they feel this way; you may know your parent or spouse best, but they may see something that you don’t.
Have an honest discussion
After you have discussed this with others, talk to your loved one. Let him or her know that you have some concerns about driving and gently explain what they are. Ask for feedback and for a possible plan that would limit driving responsibilities.
Some people may react strongly, and it may make sense to say that you understand how they feel and that you can discuss the problem in depth at a later time, after they have had time to think about the issue. Depending on how strong their reaction is, you may find it helpful to ask your family doctor to weigh in on the matter.
Your personal relationship with your loved one will determine how strongly you need to pursue this issue, but because a person who is no longer competent to drive can create dangerous situations for both themselves and others, settling this matter at the appropriate time is crucial.
In addition to consulting with trusted advisors, your family may wish to utilize resources from driving programs geared toward the senior driver.