Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk: Aiding Elderly Drivers

You can also talk about it in terms of driving itself -- "driving isn't what it used to be" -- focused on the way others drive or difficult road conditions.

If one of their friends has stopped driving, you could also ask, "I hear that Mr. Smith gave up driving. Do you think your driving ability has changed?" or ask about an older family member and when they stopped driving.

Suggest Limits

You can also suggest that your parent puts limits on his or her driving, rather than stopping completely. Ask your parent if he or she might be more comfortable not driving at night, or only in good weather, or just locally and not on highways. These strategies can help you ease them into the idea of hanging up the keys.

Consult a Doctor

If your parent is still unwilling to discuss the matter, you can turn to their doctor; making it a medical issue and not an age issue. This generation respects the physician's voice and will often take their advice. The Hartford Financial and MIT AgeLab survey found that outside of family members, older drivers also value the opinion of doctors, and some doctors might be able to tell if your parent's visual and cognitive skills and reflexes have declined.

Elder Drivers: How to Have the Talk

Present Alternatives state for not wanting to hang up the keys is independence. When you're going to have this conversation, make sure you have some alternatives in mind. Find out if your community has good public transportation that goes where they want to go or an elder organization that offers transportation.

Some will say they can't afford to give up the car and take taxis. Do the math for them because that might not be true. If they don't have to make car and insurance payments, pay for gas and upkeep, they might find that there's a tidy sum available for alternate transportation.

CLICK HERE for work sheets to help you assess transportation alternatives and to determine their transportation expenses.

Suggest They Take a Driver-Safety Class or Evaluation

The AARP offers information about driver-safety classes, and a doctor might recommend that your parent undergo an assessment of driving skills, including a road test. Woodruff's father agreed to undergo a driving-skills evaluation and when the results surprised him, he decided to give up driving.

CLICK HERE for more information from the AARP's Driver Safety Program.

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