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Talking to the Elderly About Giving up their Car Keys

Home Care San Diego Caregiver Assisting Senior Out of Car

One of the most difficult parts of getting older is being forced to give up some of the activities that you enjoy.  Many older people find it particularly difficult to give up driving.  It’s no wonder — driving is seen as an important part of becoming an adult and helps an older person maintain their independence.

Seniors love driving so much that they are very reluctant to give up their keys. If they are no longer capable of driving safely, this can lead to some very dangerous situations for both them and other road users.

This article will provide some useful tips on how to convince a senior relative to give up their keys.  These tips can help you convince even the most obstinate driver to get off the road.

Are you sure they are struggling to drive?

Before asking an elderly parent to stop driving, it is important to confirm they are having trouble.  Don’t assume that your 75-year-old parent is struggling to drive.  In many cases, people have been able to safely drive into their 80’s or 90’s.

Ask your elderly relative to drive you somewhere and pay attention to their driving technique.  Are they confident behind the wheel?  Are they paying attention to other cars on the road and traffic signs?  If you notice any serious issues with their driving, make a mental note of the incident.  You may have to mention it later on.

Some of the most common signs that your parent is struggling with driving include:

  • They appear lost or confused while driving
  • The vehicle is swerving erratically in the lane
  • They ignore some traffic signs
  • They start to receive infringement notices from the police for traffic offences
  • You notice that their car has a few unexplained dents and scratches
  • They disregard the rights of other vehicles and tend to push their way into traffic

Strategies for getting an elderly adult to stop driving

Once you have ascertained that your elderly relative is struggling to drive, you can take action.  Use the following strategies:

Start a conversation about their driving
Start off by asking your loved one if they still feel comfortable when driving — perhaps they already understand that their driving skills are deteriorating.  If they don’t realize their driving is worsening, explain the reasons why you think it is.

Be careful how you voice your concerns.  Don’t aggressively accuse them of driving poorly, because they will immediately become defensive.  Let them know you are worried about their safety.  It might take multiple conversations before they admit they are struggling behind the wheel.

Always listen to their concerns.  They might be worried about their ability to get to doctor’s appointments or to visit their friends.  After they have voiced some concerns, don’t immediately rush to the solutions you have prepared.  Listen to all of their concerns, and then find the right time to offer the solutions.

Identify problems affecting their driving

Ask them if a medical problem is affecting their driving.  Their poor driving may be caused by an issue with their eyesight or medication.  Keep yourself open to the possibility that they might still be able to drive after correcting any problems they are experiencing.

Explain the alternatives to driving

Let your senior relative know that they can still maintain their independence and freedom without a car.  Explain some of the other transportation options they will have available to them.  Explain how their life might actually get easier without a car!

What if they still refuse to stop driving?

If a loved one refuses to give up their keys after you have pleaded with them, consider contacting third parties.  This should only be done if you believe your loved one is a serious danger to themselves or others.  This approach can damage your relationship with them and should only be a last resort.

Some of the people you can contact include:

  • The family doctor
    Seniors can be stubborn and refuse to listen to their younger relatives — but they might still listen to their doctor! Share your concerns with their doctor and ask them if they can have a chat with your loved one about the risks of driving.
  • The family attorney
    They may be able to convince your relative of the financial and legal risk of their continued driving
  • Your relative’s optometrist
    If an elderly relative’s eyesight is the cause of their bad driving, their optometrist might be able to convince them that it is time to hang up their keys!
  • The State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
    You may be able to contact the DMV with your relative’s health information and request a new drivers test. This will definitively determine if your relative is actually safe to be on the road!

The ramifications of not driving

You should be aware that losing the ability to drive can have serious effects on your elderly relative.  For example:

  • They may feel anxious or depressed about their inability to drive
  • They may need some help going shopping, attending doctor’s appointments, and attending social engagements
  • Some tasks that they used to find easy when they had a car may be much harder now
  • They might need to learn how to use public transport, which can be a daunting thing for an older person
  • The additional difficulty associated with going grocery shopping without a car may cause them to compromise the quality of their diet
  • They may need more options for obtaining help in an emergency situation

Address these issues by ensuring your relative has plenty of transportation options available.  These options may include family members, volunteer organizations who provide free rides, ride sharing companies like Uber or Lyft, taxis, and public transport.  Home care staff can also be used to provide your relative with transportation.

How Adult Home Care can help

Adult Home Care provides trained caregivers to help seniors in the comfort of their own home.  Our caregivers can provide transport for your loved one — helping them maintain an active social life, get to doctor’s appointments on time, perform their grocery shopping and much more.  Your relative will be happy to hand over their keys if they know they will still have their independence and can lead an active life.  Some of the other services provided by Adult Home Care include:

  • Meal preparation and grocery shopping
  • Assistance with personal hygiene tasks
  • Help picking up and organizing medications
  • Laundry services
  • Picking up medications from pharmacies and ensuring they are taken appropriately
  • Domestic cleaning duties including dusting and vacuuming
  • Much more!

If you are interested in learning more about home care, contact us today at 619-940-6561 for a free in-home consultation.  We will discuss your parent’s capabilities and determine which services they may require.