As our loved ones grow older, there are many difficult decisions that we might have to discuss with them. When we notice their physical or mental health begin to decline, it is important that we make sure their new limitations are not putting them in danger.
Whether your mom is having trouble using the stairs or your dad is struggling to remember to turn the oven off, there are many new obstacles to look out for. One of these obstacles is driving – and making the transition from driver to non-driver can feel like a big blow to mom and dad – so it’s essential that you’re well prepared for the conversation. That means knowing the warning signs, understanding the emotional impact this decision will make, and having a transportation plan in place.
Many people are hesitant to begin this difficult conversation with their parents or grandparents. Without the ability to drive, our parents are stripped of a great deal of their freedom. No one wants to rely on someone else every time they need to run an errand or visit a friend. It’s easy to feel trapped at home with no access to a vehicle, especially for a person who is struggling with mobility – when walking might not be an option. Even so, it’s essential to take the steps to begin the transition.
It’s just too risky. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 712 older adult drivers are injured in car accidents every day. Of those, 19 older adults are killed. Further, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, people aged 70 or older have an increased chance of fatal car accidents – largely because their bodies are frail and are no longer prepared to protect them from a major injury.
Now, we’re not saying that your Mom or Dad needs to stop driving when they turn 70. If they are in great health and there are no warning signs to indicate that it’s time to turn in the keys, then you do not need to rush to make this decision. However, if your parent is showing the warning signs, you’ll want to begin the transition right away.
It’s hard to know exactly when it’s time for Mom or Dad to turn in the keys – and having the conversation can feel overwhelming or even impossible. There are many resources available to those who need a little extra help. Check out our episode sources below to learn more.