“OK, that’s it, I’m taking your car keys and you can’t drive anymore.” Can you imagine saying that to an aging parent or spouse because you’re concerned about their driving? I don’t think so.
Remember, we’ll all be an “older” driver ourselves one day, or maybe we already are?
I like how Joy Loverde puts it in her book: “The Complete Eldercare Planner.” “The goal is to help them plan for retiring from driving.”
My Dad was in his 80’s when my brothers noticed during a with the folks, that their car had a few dents… and with subsequent visits, there were even more. At the same time this was going on, my husband experienced quite the wild ride with Dad. With Dad driving, he would tend to make a left turn, but float to the right lane without signaling. These were just examples of driving problems.
It was time to figure out what to do. Here’s the idea:
My brothers and I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I decided to talk with his Cardiologist about the situation and asked him (through his nurse) if he would talk to Dad about not driving any more. Well, long story short… Dad did give the doctor his license without a fight, which was a shock.. but that’s how we handled it and it worked. Was it easy for Dad afterwards? No.. but we gave him and Mom as much support as possible.
Perhaps you don’t have that option…
Here’s another idea.
Start a discussion during a normal, everyday conversation:
“I heard you had to take your car in for service last week. It’s amazing how much it costs these days to maintain a car. Was it pretty expensive this time? It makes me think about the alternatives to having my own car. Then there’s the cost of insurance and it’s just getting higher; and with so many uninsured drivers out there… even if I have an accident and it isn’t my fault, it will cost me.
How much do you pay for insurance? Then there’s the cost of gasoline. Remember when gas was 25 cents/gallon? It seems like I use the car a lot less and really, as long as there are other ways of getting around, I could save a lot of money just by not driving any more. What about you?” And besides as Yogi might say: “You can save money, which is just the same as cash.”
Older drivers are smarter than we think and although they may not admit it, a conversation may just help them draw their own conclusions about “retiring from driving.”
Getting Outside Help and Direction:
There are so many resources available that will help maintain driver safety or help with “retiring from driving.” Here’s some excellent information from a company called Keeping Us Safe.
Taken from their website, I want to list a few of the questions they pose to the reader.
• Do you live away from your loved one and aren’t completely sure of his/her ability to continue driving safely?
• Could you use some help and direction plotting the future of your loved one’s safe driving career?
• Are you unsure how to address this issue with your loved one?
• Are you looking for a program that will help further your loved-one’s ability to remain a safe driver?
Take a look at the Self Assessment Program for Older Drivers, which is offered in several states; and their book: Beyond Driving with Dignity: The workbook for older drivers and their families. The workbook is designed to help you be “successful in overcoming the challenges of an older driver’s safety”.
Since the Assessment Program may not be offered in your state, another resource for you is your local AAA Office.
I wish you well as you help the older driver you know to be safe, or to “retire from driving.” In either case, it isn’t an easy challenge, but it is one that can be met. It just takes the right tools and enough patience.
“Our aspirations are our possibilities” Anonymous