Having to deal with the decision of taking away mom or dad’s independence when it comes to driving is a difficult decision that many adult children must face unless of course, the parent decides on their own it is better to put the keys for good which is the ideal plan but does not always go in this direction. Giving up part of the independence is a life changing experience which means it is no longer part of their routine and can be difficult to adjust but is part of life that requires discussion so that alternative transportation can be arranged.
During a previous home visit, a 75 year old stated she had just arrived from picking up her medications from the pharmacy in which she had driven herself to and from the pharmacy. This individual stated that her children asked her not to drive anymore because her vision is declining in addition to all the medications she was taking that cause some drowsiness. She then stated that it was just a few blocks away from her home and so far so good however, there were the unexplained dents, scratches on the car especially the bumper area in which she was not sure how it happened since it was brought to her attention by her children. I then asked her if she wore a hearing aid and responded after a few seconds since she was attempting to read my lips as I was speaking. She stated she wore them but had difficulty changing the batteries due to the arthritis in her hands so she had not worn them lately. We discussed the dangers of not being able to hear while driving such as sirens, people honking, etc. which she had a clear understanding of how dangerous this was becoming and needed to reconsider her options.
After discussing options with your loved one, it would be good practice to walk around the car and check for other new damages, go for frequent drives with them so you become aware if their driving skills are declining and if so, write down the dangers so they become aware of it. They may consider their older grandchild, son, etc driving them instead so this way, they get to spend more time with their loved one(especially if everyone wants to take turns in taking grandma/grandpa and stop for coffee, etc afterwards) at the same time, keeping them safe. Remember that aging loved ones want to feel they are still just as important as everyone else and need to be enjoyed by family and included.