The AgingCare.com forum is filled with people coming together to share valuable information. We’ve compiled experienced caregivers’ best tips for broaching the subject of unsafe driving with an aging loved one.
Having the Discussion About Driving
“My great aunt, who was very thrifty, had her right leg amputated at 85. We were concerned that her muscle car would have to be off limits after that. Since she was so thrifty (raised way before the Great Depression), we appealed to her frugality. My mom let her know that the amputation would have to be reported to her insurance company and it would probably cost her a fortune to get insured afterwards. She gave up driving after thinking about that angle. A sports car would be very costly to insure even after only one accident occurred. Try every angle that you think would get your loved one’s attention. Sometimes the senior just needs a valid reason that they can tell friends and others—a reason other than ‘they’re too old’ or ‘their mind can’t handle it anymore.’ For example, my aunt eventually sold her car dirt cheap to a young couple in the family and it helped them out while solving our driving issue.” –jo165fromTampa
“If you are afraid of their reaction, have family members on hand when you tell them and perhaps ask the doctor for a couple of pills for anxiety to get them through the day. You might explain to the doctor what you are doing and ask them to back you up.” –Sunnygirl1
“If your loved one has dementia, keep in mind that you will not be able to reason with them. Even if you convinced them today that the driving should end, they will forget all about it tomorrow. It’s very hard, but you have to get rid of the car. If you can divert their attention, dodge and weave by saying the car is in the shop etc. There’s nothing wrong with a little fibbing to make this happen and keep them and the general public safe.” –Windyridge
“Any time I couldn’t drive Dad or Mom someplace, he would threaten to drive himself, and that was a very hot-button issue for me. I would explode. Numerous times I told him that if he was in a serious accident where someone was really hurt, then he and Mom would be sued and everything they worked so hard for over the past 70 years would be gone. Then what? How would he and Mom live? Was going to the grocery store for a sale on canned peaches worth that risk? That usually settled him down. Sometimes mechanical issues can be a blessing, too. Thankfully Dad’s old Oldsmobile wouldn’t hold a charge (something electrical in the car was draining the battery), so he would need to bring out the portable charger and set it up. After a few hours of charging the car, Dad would forget why he wanted to drive in the first place!” –freqflyer
“I got lucky this year because my mother’s insurance renewal came at exactly the right time for me to warn her that if she didn’t disclose her recent medical conditions, her policy would be voided. If she did disclose this information, she would be refused insurance. Basically I convinced her it was better to ‘suspend’ the policy ‘until she got better’ than to risk never being able to get insurance again. I felt like such a weasel, but at least it saved face. For some seniors, the ‘quit while you’re ahead’ argument is effective. Push the fact that an honorable retirement from driving with a long, unblemished record is something to be very proud of. It’ll also entitle them to be official back seat drivers for the rest of their lives!” –Churchmouse
“I casually brought it up to my dad one day. I asked if he’s ever thought he was at that point in life where he couldn’t drive. I was trying to put out a feeler to see how he’d respond. After several more discussions over a span of time, we decided to let the doctor decide if my dad could continue to drive. When I called to make the appointment, I spoke to the nurse and told her that my dad wasn’t safe behind the wheel and I would like the doctor to tell my dad it was time to give up driving. I knew my dad would never listen to me, but I figured he might listen to his doctor. He did. The doctor expressed concern over my dad’s driving and he stopped that day. I’ve always been in favor of making the doctor the bad guy with these kinds of issues.” –Eyerishlass