Driver safety can be a very sensitive subject for seniors. A driver’s license is a symbol of freedom and self sufficiency for senior citizens. The privilege of driving is not something some wants to willingly give up. However, the safety of a senior on the road should be of utmost importance.
Some elderly people are more aware of their faltering driving ability than others, yet are probably still reluctant to give up driving completely. Other seniors may forget that they are not supposed to drive. If you are finding yourself in the position to talk to a friend or family member about driving concerns here are some things to remember:
Give specific examples: General statements like “You don’t drive safely anymore” are a lot easier to tune out than specific examples such as “You ran over several curbs last time we drove” or “You had to brake suddenly at three different stop lights.”
Get others to help: If any other family members or close friends have noticed the senior’s driving ability has declined, then ask them to share their concerns as well. Sometimes the senior might be more apt to listen to an impartial party like a doctor or driving specialist.
Help find other options: The elderly driver may not know that there are other options out there. You can help the senior adjust to life without driving by offering several alternative means of transportation so he or she does not feel they have completely lost independence.
Be understanding of the difficult transition: A senior can experience a lot of difficult emotions when giving up driving. Try not to dismiss the feelings, but instead help with the transition as much as possible. If it is safe, you can try slowly transitioning the senior by cutting out night or freeway driving. Or try getting the senior to use a shuttle service for certain appointments.
Above all else be respectful and loving. Showing concern for how much you care about your loved one’s safety can go a long way when having a very difficult conversation.