Getting older doesn't necessarily mean a person's driving days are over, but it is important to plan ahead and make sure the seniors in your life stay safe on the road. If your loved ones are no longer able to drive safely, you can guide them toward other transportation options that meet their mobility needs.
If you think you need to have a conversation with an older driver about their driving abilities, remember that many older drivers look at driving as a form of independence. Bringing up the subject of their driving abilities can make them defensive. Being prepared with your observations and questions can help. Here are some things to consider:
If you answered yes to any of these questions, be prepared to take the steps appropriate to the situation.
Next, you should develop a plan of action based on the information you collected about your loved one's driving. If the driving issues are related to a medical condition, consider bringing your loved one to discuss the issue with a medical professional. They might take it more seriously from a doctor than they would from a family member. If there are issues related to mobility, there might be a way to adapt your loved one's vehicle to better fit their needs.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has several resources you can share with senior drivers to help them understand the issue and kick-start productive discussions with family members about potential solutions. These can range from limiting driving to daylight hours, taking public transportation, or arranging transportation with family members. It is important to include your loved one in the creation of the plan to ensure that their opinions and needs are heard and respected.
The conversation about putting the plan into action needs to be approached with sensitivity and respect for the older person. Even if they have been involved in developing the action plan, the conversation can easily provoke anger, defensiveness and denial. This is less likely to happen if the older driver has been involved in each step of the planning process.
Review the plan periodically to adjust for changes in your loved one's abilities and interests. Many communities are developing new transportation resources, so be sure to check regularly in case a new option comes along. The goal of your plan should always be to keep the senior or seniors in your life as mobile as possible while still ensuring their safety and the safety of others.