If you have parents in their sunset years of life and you’re noticing that their driving skills have started to deteriorate, maybe it is time to have that conversation. Here at Ultimate Auto Body, we know initiating a dialog about safe driving with an older driver, especially a parent, is challenging and emotional to say the least. Concerns about offending or alienating an older driver are completely understandable. There is no easy way to deal with this subject, but if you want to help maintain the older driver’s independence and mobility, hard questions will need to be asked and answered. That’s why we’ve put together some helpful (and gentle) suggestions for how to deal with this family dilemma when it occurs.
Be honest but compassionate. No one wants to be informed of the fact that they are an unsafe driver, so stay clear from general statements about older drivers. Be positive and supportive and always focus on ways to help them as they work with you to make a life-changing decision.
Interventions rarely work. Keep the conversation between you and the older driver who you want to help. Inviting the entire family to the conversation will alienate and possibly anger the person you’re trying to assist. Most interventions do not work, based on national statistics.
Make privacy a main concern. Always ask for consent to speak with an older driver’s doctors, associates or neighbors about the driver’s behavior behind the wheel.
Never assume anything. Focus on the hard facts, such as a medical condition or physical limitations that might make driving unsafe. Do not blame an older driver for being unsafe or conclude that their driving should be terminated. If you can explain that it’s better for the entire community to get them off the road, they might listen and relent.
Provide a viable alternative. With Uber, Lyft and other new transportation alternatives, in addition to public transportation, there are more and more options for seniors to consider. So, whenever you tell any senior that it is time to stop driving, put together a plan and a strategy. That way, they won’t feel abandoned and the transition will be less stressful for all parties involved.
We all get old and unless you’ve figured out a way to slow down Mr. Time, it’s unavoidable. The driving privilege that so many people enjoy can be abruptly terminated by an accident or an injury, so please proactively communicate with the senior drivers in your life. Here in Bedford Hills and all over NY, senior drivers and their families are making tough decisions every day.
So, try to make it an easy process for your parents, grandparents or anyone else who is ready to step away from those years behind the wheel. By leading with full transparency and empathy, you’ll make it as painless and stress-free as it can possibly be.