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Talking to elderly parents about driving

Driving is a major responsibility. Unfortunately, there are many drivers behind the wheel who cannot fulfill this responsibility because of physical limitations or health problems. This could include your parents if they are getting older and suffering from conditions that affect their driving abilities.

In these situations, having a frank discussion with them about adjusting their driving habits or even reducing their driving opportunities may be necessary. Below, we discuss some tips for how to approach this sensitive subject.

Understand that it's not just about driving

When you talk to a parent, understand that the conversation isn't just about driving capabilities. It's about his or her independence. Remember this, and understand that a parent would need public transportation or a ride from someone to do everything from going to the grocery store to visiting a friend.

When you talk to your parent about driving, address this limitation. Discuss possible alternatives and solutions to give your parent some comfort that he or she will not be isolated and stuck at home alone. 

Don't wait too long

As this article suggests, you do not have to wait until your parent gets a ticket, causes an accident or displays highly troubling driving behavior to talk to them.

Instead, be proactive; talk to a parent before the need to stop driving is immediate. Maybe develop a plan together that identifies specific elements that would necessitate driving adjustments, like vision decline, certain medications or memory lapses.

Avoid making it a group activity

Approaching your parent as a group, like with all your brothers and sisters, can seem intimidating and possibly condescending. Instead, talk to your parent privately and gently. Keep it an open discussion and ask your parent questions, rather than make demands. Doing so can allow you to create a plan that works for everyone.

Focus on the big picture

As difficult as it may be to talk to your parents about reducing their driving or stopping altogether, understand that it may be unavoidable if your parent is no longer able to drive safely. Not only could you be saving him or her from getting a ticket or hurt in car accident, you could also be protecting everyone else on the road.

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