When a Parent Should Stop Driving

Stop Driving“Should my dad stop driving?  He is 84, hard of hearing and his vision is poor also. I am beside myself with worry that he will get in an accident but her refuses to listen. What can I do?”  Sarah G.

Thank you for your question Ms. G and I understand your concern. Many adult sons and daughters are dealing with this very issue with their own parents. Driving for anyone allows independence. Seniors have likely been driving for about 70 years or more and giving it up is a true hardship. In S. Florida it is a double whammy as there isn’t very good public transportation.

Paradise Home Health Care Recommends:

-Speak to all members of the family to make sure all siblings agree or go with the majority.

-Have your parent’s primary physician be the “heavy” and speak with your parent, and any other person your parent respects, maybe clergy, attorney.

-Choose one sibling to speak with the parent in a calm, non-accusatory manner, in a safe place.

-Be prepared for your parent to be defensive and accept that this is a process.

-Negotiate that your parent will take a driving test, vision, reflexes.

-Present alternative solutions, hire a driver, enroll in Senior Transportation Service, and arrange a monthly fee with a taxi service.

-If your parent has cognitive impairment and on medications for it, an auto accident could prompt a very costly law suit. A crash will hit them in their wallet.

-If possible, build a driving schedule with local family and friends.

Nothing truly replaces the feeling of freedom, of getting in one’s car and driving. But, Safety comes first. Aging does affect our senses and reflex/reaction times. Seniors may be on medications or have conditions which make driving unsafe.  If your parent is truly a danger on the roads, a physician may have to alert the DMV, in Florida, anyone can phone in a concern and a license may have to be revoked. This is unpleasant for all considered, but no more so than a debilitating crash resulting in injury and or death of your loved one or a stranger.  We hope this has been helpful to you and your family.