Giving Up Driving

Giving Up Driving

Discussing ‘Giving Up Driving’ With Seniors

According to a survey the number of fatalities in automobile accidents with drivers over 75 is almost the same as teenagers. One of the most difficult things we face is dealing with a senior that must give up driving. For most, it means a huge loss of freedom and independence. It also adds more limitations and restrictions for them. It can be one of the hardest things to come to terms with. Especially if a family member is dealing with Alzheimer’s or Dementia.

Some seniors realize that they no longer feel safe or comfortable driving. They generally take it well, but still have that feeling of loss. Then there others; these drivers feel they can still drive safely and insist they should be allowed to drive. This can cause conflict within families, and the senior more than often, shall feel alienated because of the stand that close family members need to take.

Some signs to look for are:

– Hitting the curb
– Forgetting where you are
– Getting in accidents or fender benders
– Missing exits or turns
– Changing lanes without signally
– Failing to stop at stop signs
– Forgetting how to get to well-known places
– Switching lanes without checking for traffic

Here are some helpful tips to discuss the topic that driving is no longer safe:

1. Be prepared to have a number of conversations – continual conversations are recommended to establish a pattern. Ongoing conversation give seniors time to consider the situation without the impact of changing behaviours immediately

2. Always try to be patient and understanding – try not to be blunt. Telling someone “you need to stop driving” can irritate or exaggerate their emotions. It’s important to talk about safety and health, as well as the dangers of certain road conditions. Multiple conversations may be necessary and talking about it when you are not driving with the person is important as well. Try NOT to provoke the family member by bringing up too many of the mistakes with their driving skills.

3. Involve them in the decision – one of the most significant things to remember is to NOT make the decision for them. At some point you may need to take charge and possibly hide the keys, or move the car. Most seniors, will eventually understand, and accept the concept that they need to give up driving. THEY need to realize it’s not safe for them to continue to drive. When a senior decides it is time for them to stop driving, it is significantly better than you taking the driving away from them. Ask them questions about how they feel about driving, how they feel about the “crazy drivers” out there, the safety of the roads, as well as their abilities and limitations.

4. Offer an alternative – if you offer an appealing alternative it won’t be nearly as difficult. Perhaps a family member could take turns driving a senior weekly to some where they want or need to go. Or hire a driver or home care provider to drive them a couple times per week. You could suggest they move closer to a family member that could help bring them groceries or take places, or they could move closer to amenities. This is also a good time to discuss the benefits of an assisted living facility or retirement home where there are access buses or transportation regularly. So try to replace their driving with an alternative that will appease them.

It’s often not about giving up the act of driving as much as giving up their independence. Try to approach the topic slowly, with patience and understanding and offer them an alternative solution. This will help relieve the frustration and possible conflict.

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