Telling one’s aging parent that it may be time for them to relinquish the car keys can be one of the most difficult parts of having an aging family member. Yet, if you are having any doubts as to their competencies behind the wheel, this could be one of the most important decisions you and they make.
If your older relatives are still driving, take the time to ride with them and observe their driving skills. Consider the following:
- Are they having close calls?
- Have they gotten warnings or tickets?
- Do they drive too slow or miss signs or signals?
- Are there dents or dings on the car or garage?
- Do they have difficulties at intersections?
These signs might mean that it is time to limit their driving or hang up the keys all together.
Remember, this conversation may very well be met with resistance. Go into it with information so they don’t feel helpless and suddenly without their freedom. Look around their community to see what alternative transportation options exist for shopping, medical visits, religious services and visits with family and friends if driving becomes too risky. Very often there are far more options to getting around than we or they are aware of.
Check your local AAA for driving tests and tips for elder drivers. And remember that the sale of their car and savings from not paying insurance/gas/service can leave them with more than enough to pay for alternate transportation. It may be a difficult conversation, but it is so important for their own safety and for that of others.