When Seniors Stop Driving: Gentle Ways to Get Mom and Dad to Hand Over the Car Keys

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Image: Daily Mail

It’s frustrating have to have to give up your vehicle, but sometimes, it’s necessary. Problem is, this is your mom and dad we’re talking about. They come from a different generation — a generation not used to being told what to do. So, how do you get them to give up the keys when they are fundamentally resistant to the idea?

Scare Them Half To Death

If this sounds a little over-the-top, it’s because it is. But, it’s also sometimes necessary to shake your parents up enough to get them out of their mindset, which is: “I’m fine.” If they’re not really fine, and they’re in denial about their driving ability, then it’s time to hit them with the cold-hard facts.

Many law firms, like joyelawfirm.com, are responsible for protecting people like your parents. But, they also sue people like your parents who are involved in car crashes where there is negligence or where it’s clear they are at fault and there’s a case to be made for monetary damages.

If your parents are like most, they don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars that they can waste on civil judgments.

Get them to see that their driving isn’t what it used to be, and encourage them to hire help or offer to drive them around yourself.

Plan Ahead

You need to plan ahead how you’re going to approach the subject before you bring it up. Take some time to consider how this looks from your parent’s point of view. What does driving mean to them?

For some parents, it’s difficult to give up independence. At the same time, the parents might be in denial about it. According to David Solie, a geriatric expert and author of How To Say It To Seniors, elderly people face many losses as they get older — loss of control over many aspects of their life. They struggle with this loss of control and giving up the car keys is yet another loss for them.

In fact, they could become so upset, that they lose interest in their favorite activities, lose interest in traveling and might change their lifestyle completely to reflect the fact that they are no longer “mobile.” The decision not to drive may impact who they stay friends with and what activities they choose to engage in.

If you assume that it will only take one conversation, you’re setting yourself up for frustration. It’s unlikely that your parents will want to let go immediately.

Plan to have the discussion during a quiet time of the day, when you know your parents won’t be doing much.

How To Bring It Up

Bringing up the conversation in a light hearted and laid-back manner. If you rush in and say “You have to stop driving right now!” then you’re going to put your parents’ defenses up. They’re probably get angry or tune you out. No one likes to be talked to like that.

At the same time, it’s important to build a sense of urgency. Also, you need to agitate them in a way that motivates them to do something. Even if you know that your parent’s driving has become erratic, it won’t do you any good to point it out. Odds are, your mom and dad know it.

A good way to start the conversation is with a question. Ask “how are you doing with your driving? Are you finding it more difficult?” They may say “yes” or “no” or avoid the discussion altogether.

That’s OK. Keep trying. It might take several tries. You may have to work on them for a year or more.

How To Handle Objections

Listen to your loved one. Listen to the objections. Often, you’ll hear things like: “But, how will I get to church?” Or “Who will take me to the doctor?” And “What about my golf game?” These objections are telling you what your parents are really worried about.

They may know that they can’t drive very well anymore, but they’re reluctant to give up their values — they’re having an internal struggle with that fact. Encourage your parents to discuss it openly.

Oliver Gregory works in the auto insurance industry. He enjoys writing on related topics, usually working on an article or two of an evening as a way of relaxing.

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