“Mom, I don’t think you should be driving anymore.”
Families live in fear of having this talk. Here are three conversation starters to help you ease into an open discussion with your parent about their driving:
1) “I’m updating my emergency preparedness plan. What does your plan look like?” This is a good opportunity to gauge if your parent feels safe driving in fraught situations. If they imply not, ask if there are neighbors they can rely on for an emergency ride, and then press to better understand in what circumstances they might call upon that neighbor.
2) “Do you ever have a hard time with your blind spot?” As people age, they often lose a range of motion. A mirror extension may help with this, and other modifications might allow a driver to extend their driving years. AAA explains a series of modifications in this article. If the modifications don’t help your dad, he might have a better understanding of his limitations behind the wheel.
3) “We should figure out your local transportation options, so you’ll be ready when the time comes.” It’s easier to learn new things when the stakes are a little lower.
- Offer to print out the bus schedule and take a ride with your parents.
- Talk with their local senior center to get information about its transportation program.
- Download Lyft or Uber onto your mom’s smartphone and show her how to use it or, order a Lyft or Uber on her behalf.
- Request an Arrive Rides brochure.
By being proactive, you’re acknowledging that the time will eventually come when your family expects that she’ll no longer drive, but that the alternatives aren’t scary, and that you’re prepared to help her.
Remember: Most people don’t just set down the keys one day and change their entire lifestyle. This will be an ongoing conversation–and one it’s possible to have in harmony.