This second week in December marks Older Driver Safety Awareness Week. That’s a great reason to broach the subject with your senior about what their future plans are for when their driving becomes less than reliable.
Bringing it up early – well before you think there’s a problem – can help plant the seed in their mind and yours. Be sure that when you discuss the issue, it’s a dialogue, not a lecture. Ask them about their thoughts: How would they get around? How would it make them feel? Would they need to be living elsewhere? What kind of family and friend support would they need?
Getting started early means that it’s not a threat, so it’s easier to talk about it. And then the ideas and the contingency plans are there for later. And you can settle on times to discuss the idea again: in six months or a year, after a traffic ticket, after a minor accident.
But what if you’re already concerned about their driving, and they’re simply not willing to discuss the issue? There are still things you can do. If you have power of attorney for your parent, or your parent has said its okay for you to talk to the doctor, you can bring up the issue with their physician. State your concerns and then listen to what they think are the next best steps. The doctor may be willing to speak to them about the issue, or give them some tests that may answer questions about how they’re doing with their sight, hearing and more. You can also request that your senior take a driving refresher course from AAA or AARP. This way, the senior can be given an opportunity to show you that they’re fine. Try taking the “blame” for the idea: say you’re worried and they could make you feel better if they’re willing to take the course for you.
Open communication is best, so even if it may be awkward, give it a shot. And keep in mind that self-driving cars are probably just around the corner!