Is it Time for the Driving Conversation?
At some point you’re going to have to talk to your elderly family member about driving and whether it’s safe for her to keep driving. You might need to have that talk sooner than you expect.
Open the Lines of Communication about Driving Early
The longer you wait to talk to your senior about driving the worse the conversation is going to feel for both of you. By opening up the lines of communication as early as possible you give yourself and your senior a chance to talk about this topic while you’re both less emotional about it. If your senior isn’t to the point where driving is patently unsafe, you may be able to compromise more readily if you’re talking about this early.
Lean on Safety Concerns
When you do start this conversation, lean more on your concerns about her safety than on other topics. While the other areas might be big concerns for you, that doesn’t mean your senior wants to talk about them or hear them. To her, they might just translate as you wanting her to stay home and that’s not the point.
Don’t Expect Her to Be Happy
One mistake you don’t want to make is to assume that your senior is fine with this talk. She’s not. Put yourself in her shoes for a moment. She’s likely too upset at the thought of not being able to drive anymore, whether she says that to you directly or not. Don’t expect that she’s going to be thrilled with this conversation at all.
Give Her Alternatives
When you open up this conversation, make sure that you bring alternatives to the table with you. Investigate the different options that might appeal to your senior. One answer that can be especially helpful is to hire elder care providers to do the driving for her. They can be available whenever your senior wants to get going, while also helping with other tasks.
Consider Getting Another Opinion
If your aging family member is especially adamant that she’s fine to drive, it doesn’t hurt to get another opinion. Talking to her doctor might be a good idea or you can set up a driving evaluation. Either or both of these options can get you both the answers you need about her ability to keep driving.
The truth is that this is a really difficult conversation for both of you to have. You can try to soften the experience somewhat, but it’s important that you don’t undersell your point that your senior’s safety is the most important aspect to you.