Putting the Brakes on Your Loved One’s Driving

April 18, 2014

A smattering of new car dents and your son’s recent account of how going to get ice cream with grandpa was a near-death experience is confirming what you’ve thought for a while now: it’s time to put the keys away. How do you tell a parent that they can’t drive anymore? It’s a role reversal that no one is ever emotionally prepared for but with the right mindset the conversation can be had in a mature and respectful manner.

First off, it’s important to have all the information and details correct. Why do you think your loved one should be off the road? The reasoning will likely fall under one of these medical conditions:

  • Signs of dementia or disorientation
  • Weakness or muscle deterioration in arms and legs
  • Drowsiness and other side effects from medications

Understanding the cause for their deteriorating driving skills will be helpful when it comes time to have the discussion with them. You’ll want to have specific reasons to support your argument or else it will be more difficult to convince them that you’re right. Not to mention that having a medical reason to blame is helpful because then it will be harder for them to take it personally; it’s something that’s happening to them and nothing they can control.

It’s also a good idea to go for a drive with your parent and confirm that your concerns are valid. While driving watch to see if they seem aware of their surroundings, are paying attention to road signs, staying within their lanes and the speed limit. If by the end of the drive, you feel like your son did and were worried for your life at any moment, then it’s time to have the talk… we just hope that you at least got an ice cream out of it, too.

Be sure to have the conversation in a comfortable atmosphere and during a time of the day that your loved one is most relaxed and at ease. Use a calm voice and remember to speak to them as an adult, it’s important that they feel respected. You can start the conversation but if there’s any point where they begin to take the lead, let them; if this decision can be made by them and not you it will help alleviate a lot of tension. If you’re forced to lead the entire conversation remind them that it isn’t their fault, they’ve done nothing wrong and that you’re simply looking out for their safety.

Hopefully the outcome of this discussion will be in your favor and won’t cause your parent to become angry or bitter but if this isn’t the case, then there are other ways to obtain their keys. Go here to learn more: https://www.agingcare.com/Articles/Ways-to-Legally-Get-Your-Elderly-Parent-s-Keys-112307.htm. It’s not an easy conversation to have but it’s necessary, especially when you believe your loved one’s life and/or the lives of others could be at risk. You’re doing the right thing.