7 Tips on How to Talk to Aging Parents About Driving

Some research shows that the most difficult conversation to have is about aging parents driving. Starting the conversation early can help, and keeping the focus of the conversation on how you can help your parent maintain his or her independence while looking at options is key.

Here are some other tips:

  1.  Start the conversation early.
  2. Observe your parent’s driving abilities so that you have details for future discussion.
  3. Consider contacting other resources. Doctors, health care providers, law enforcement officers and others can be a neutral party to aid in evaluation and discussion. They may recommend driver re-training, vehicle modifications or occupational therapy.
  4. Validate the difficulty of an issue for your parent and be understanding while bringing up your concerns. Encourage your parent to be the main participant in any decision-making and avoid being judgemental.
  5. Assess transportation needs and find alternative transportation. Adjusting to reduced driving is easier if there are other mobility choices available.
  6. Meet 1-on-1 and avoid confrontation. Stay calm and reasoned. Stick to facts and your authentic concerns for your parent’s safety and the safety of others.
  7. Be patient, listen, and don’t insist on a quick resolution. If the conversation gets heated, consider dropping the issue now and picking another moment to re-address it.

Even though the subject of aging parents driving is one of the most difficult conversations to have, it’s important to start it sooner rather than later. It may help your parent self-assess their own driving skills and to self-limit. If they are unwilling or unable to, being informed and having resources can help you can give you a road map for keeping your parent and others as safe as possible.

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