Giving Up the Keys

How to Approach a Parent About Giving Up the Keys

There comes a time when families are faced with having to talk with a loved one about giving up driving, for their own safety and that of others. How do you do this and minimize feelings of resentment over lost independence?

Here are some tips

  • Plan and build a case. If you feel safe doing so and have not done so in a long while, ride in the car with your parent at the wheel. Get a sense for whether your intuition is right or not. It may turn out that your parent is a safer driver than you suspected. However, if your hunch bears out, you will have at least one reference point to go to when you talk with your parent.
  • Get some facts so you can refer to recent headlines—local or national—about accidents caused by elderly drivers. This can help you transition into a discussion about your parents driving.
  • Be compassionate, making it clear that you are motivated purely by concern for your parents well-being.
  • Seek help from others when you feel you cannot convince your parent on your own. Many motor vehicle bureaus offer assessment services for elderly drivers. The senior’s physician may also provide an evaluation and a prescription to cease driving due to safety concerns. A friend who has already given up driving can offer the reassuring voice of experience.
  • Offer alternatives to driving. For instance, volunteer to take your parent to church or to the grocery—and have other family members and friends help out. Or suggest a professional caregiving service, such as Tender Loving Family Care, Inc. which provides clients incidental transportation to appointments and other needs.