One of the most difficult decisions caregivers may have to make is to take away their parent’s driving privileges. If you and other family members have noticed that your parent is no longer driving safely or has a health condition that dictates he shouldn’t be behind the wheel anymore, it’s probably time to start the needed process of removing his ability to drive.
This will be a scary and oftentimes unwelcome restriction in your parent’s life. Use care, grace, and understanding as you begin this hard conversation with your aging parent. It’s also important that you offer solutions for the questions he may have about how he will keep his freedom without the ability to drive. To do that, you’ll need to do a bit of preparation before you have that first conversation.
Here are some tips on how to begin, hopefully leading it to a conclusion that will satisfy both of you.
Don’t hold off having this conversation. You should have it as soon as you begin to worry for your parent’s safety. If it’s not a medical necessity to not drive, you can start out by offering smaller restrictions, such as not driving at night or driving on the freeway. This will help your parent ease into a life without driving.
Showing empathy and kindness as you take away something your parent has been actively doing for decades, will help your parent understand this isn’t a punishment. It’s a protection to him and those in your community. Let your parent express whatever emotions he feels while remaining calm and positive.
Talk with other family members and caregivers, such as their elder care provider and his doctor, so that you’re all on the same page. If your parent can see that everyone has reached the same conclusion, he might be more inclined to comply and not try to work one person against another.
Before you talk to your parent, have options set up for him. You might have their elder care provider ready to support him with transportation needs. You can help him learn how to navigate the local transportation system, whether it’s trains, busses, or taxis. It’s also a great time to look into delivery services for things such as prescriptions, groceries and general household products.
Appeal to his heart.
Your parent may not be too worried about his own safety, but if you remind him that each time he’s on the road there are a lot of other people’s lives also on the line, he might want to stay out of his vehicle to protect his neighbors and family. Stopping driving is one way he can protect those he loves.
This conversation with your parent might not be a one-and-done. You might have to keep coming back to it for a while before your parent really grasps the necessity of this big change in his life. Being consistent with a kind heart is the best way to proceed.