Driving is a skill that many adults take for granted because they do it so often, but it is one of the most important aspects of independence, autonomy, and freedom many people have. Many elderly adults, however, struggle with challenges and limitations that keep them from being able to drive safely. This can lead to danger for them as well as for anyone else who is sharing the road with them.
As a family caregiver, it is an essential part of your care efforts for your parent that you are able to talk to them about issues they are facing and how to resolve them effectively. Talking to your senior about no longer driving can be awkward and uncomfortable, but approaching it with compassion and love enables both of you to understand the importance of this situation and move forward in the best way possible for your parent.
Use these tips to help you talk to your senior about no longer driving:
-Be open and honest. Trying to be too gentle when you were talking to them, sugarcoating the situation, or beating around the bush will all just make the situation more difficult. Not being straightforward with your senior can confuse the issue and make it more ambiguous. Being open and honest with your loved one shows them how much you care about them and ensures this situation is managed properly and promptly.
-Outline your concerns specifically. Rather than just talking in abstract terms of you not thinking they should drive anymore, or you thinking they are “too old” to be driving, clearly explain to your senior why are you are concerned about them still being behind the wheel. You might point out that they have had several minor accidents recently, have gotten tickets because of infractions, are getting confused and lost, can no longer see or hear properly, or have mobility issues that prevent them from being able to safely and effectively utilize their car. Whatever concerns you have, describe them to your parent honestly and in detail so they can understand exactly why you think they need to make this change.
-Avoid being critical. This will likely be a very difficult transition for your senior. No longer being able to drive represents a loss of independence and autonomy in their life, and your senior may experience serious emotions as a result. Avoid making the situation more difficult for them with criticisms by being compassionate, expressing that you understand how they feel, and showing that you are supportive and there for them.
-Discuss the options. Rather than just focusing on you telling your parent that they shouldn’t drive anymore, make sure you talk to them about what you were going to do moving forward. Express to them that there are options and that you will help them to arrange the ones that are right for them. This can include you bringing them where they need to go, them utilizing public transportation, or having access to senior care and reliable transportation from a provider. All of these can help to give your parent back more of their sense of control and enable them to continue living the lifestyle they desire.
Being a family caregiver means wanting what’s best for your aging loved one, and often that means reaching out for help to fulfill their needs and support their quality of life. A senior home care services provider can step in when it is right for your senior and for your routine, to fill care gaps, provide companionship, help your parent handle their activities of daily living, and more. This means they can live the lifestyle they desire while staying safe and healthy as they age in place.