Most people remember learning to drive and the feeling of independence it gave them. This is much of the reason it is so hard for an older adult to give up driving. When addressing the issues of driving with a parent, it is important to understand why driving is important to them. Is it an independence issue? Is it because they need transportation to appointments and errands? Is it an issue of control over their life? If transportation is the concern, then having alternative options to assist them in getting to appointments, the grocery store and other errands will be critical. If independence or control is the issue, it may be helpful to point out that this is not about taking away their independence or control, it is about their safety and equally important, the safety of others on the road. Many times older adults are less concerned about their own safety and well being than they are of the safety and well being of others, especially children.
This issue may be better received if presented by a person in a position of respect, such as a physician or an attorney. Another option is for a comprehensive assessment by a Certified Care Manager. In addition to assessing and making recommendations about the client’s current functional level, the appropriateness of their living environment and their overall safety, the Care Manager can assess driving safety and alternatives to driving. Many times information which will not be well received by the older adult is better delivered by a neutral third party than it is from a family member, especially a child.
Heather Frenette, RN, MSN, CMC