Putting the brakes on driving can be one of the most difficult conversations you have with your parent or loved one. It doesn’t have to be.
Planning and discussing options seem to help all of us cope. Planning also makes change easier, giving everyone time to adjust.
Ideally, the first conversations about driving safety should occur long before it becomes an issue.
Your parent or loved one should be given the opportunity to make decisions about continuing to drive, if safety is not compromised. With your help to start the conversations, you can encourage them to make a healthy and responsible choice.
You know your loved one best; their personality, driving record, health issues, alternate transportation options, family/friend relationships. That knowledge will aid you in crafting caring conversations with your loved one about the decision to limit or stop driving.
Early, occasional, and candid conversations encourage a pattern of open dialogue to reinforce driving safety. The discussion will eliminate an uncomfortable or forceful termination of your loved ones’ driving habits. Over a period of time, the discussions allow your loved one to consider his or her skills and, hopefully, they will recognize when the time comes and they are ready stop driving.
By conversing regularly with them about other transportation, they will know other options to keep them mobile and independent.
Here is an example of a conversation starters for you. “I was on the interstate today and saw an accident. Seems like there are a lot more vehicles on the road these days. Are you still comfortable driving on the interstate? Have you ever considered taking the frontage road?”
You may also discuss setting boundaries for safe driving. Come to an agreement with your loved one that they will not drive at night, in the rain or snow, or leave their hometown.
No matter what time of day or evening, let them know that if they are ever uncomfortable driving for whatever reason, you are always willing to come get them.
You may also find helpful resources about safety for older drivers from auto insurance companies, your local police department and AARP.
You can also be proactive and help your loved one brush up driving skills. Driving classes are available at VA Hospitals and with AARP – Safe Driving Classes. St. John’s Community Care hosts an AARP class. The next classes are scheduled for July and October. To register call 618-344-5008.