There is no upper age limit for operating a motor vehicle, but for some elderly individuals, driving becomes dangerously difficult. Family members must often step in to help them recognize when it is time to hand over the keys.
Ideally, an intervention will happen before an accident occurs. How can you tell it may be time to start a conversation about this with your aging loved ones, and how can you broach the subject respectfully?
When to have the talk
Aging affects reflexes, vision, memory and movement, all of which can make it difficult to safely operate a vehicle. Getting lost in neighborhoods they should be familiar with and becoming easily flustered are two warning signs that they may need to stop driving. Some more obvious signs include forgetting to follow the rules of the road, hitting curbs, frequently veering out of their lane and making unsafe driving decisions.
How to have the talk
Approach the conversation with care and respect and prepare for some pushback. Explain the reasons and ask questions to keep them involved in the conversation. Offer support and reassurance, and suggest some alternative transportation options so they know they do not have to be stuck at home. If you are unsure about their level of ability, they can complete a driving test through a private driving school or receive a clinical evaluation by an occupational therapist.
The safest option may be for your aging loved one to stop driving, but this often causes them to feel powerless and ashamed. Remember to be compassionate during this time.