How to Have the Difficult Driving Conversation With Your Parents

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Driving is a huge part of our culture. If you have elderly loved ones, you might be concerned about their safety and the safety of others on the road as they continue to age.

Limiting/stopping driving is very difficult for anyone of any age, but may be necessary in some cases. For most elders, limited driving does two things: makes them feel like they are limited on where they can go and what they can do and makes them feel like they are a burden.

To combat these concerns and to prepare for your conversation, start by having a family plan for getting your loved one to and from appointments in an easy/less burdensome way. There are also a lot of creative solutions besides hiring or being a chauffeur! Ride sharing apps, other friends/family and teenagers who like driving are just a few alternatives.

Unless there is a very worrisome incident, try to get input from multiple family members or friends who have driven with the individual. This builds some consensus, and discussing your concerns as a family prior to engaging with the loved one will help the conversation flow more smoothly.

Ochsner Driving Evaluation Program

For more information on Ochsner’s Driving Evaluation Program, call 504-842-4348.

Also, it is helpful to make sure they’ve seen their doctor and had a neuropsychological evaluation that will document any cognitive difficulties. There are many driving evaluation programs that can be an objective on-the-road test.

When having the difficult conversation, make sure you focus on the risks, not their driving difficulties. Focusing on driving difficulties could generate resistance. Instead, talk about increased liability. Discuss your concerns about what will happen if they can’t completely remember all the sequences in an accident and it is arbitrarily judged their fault.

Remember, if possible, include the elderly driver in the decision-making process rather than dictate a decision to them. This is a very sensitive topic and it’s important to be cognizant of everyone’s feelings and safety.

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