How can I convince my elderly parent to stop driving?

Dr. Aruna V. Josyula, MD
Geriatric Medicine Specialist

Focusing on the health and safety aspects related to driving could help avoid making this conversation with an aging loved one feel like a personal attack. Be supportive by recognizing that this is a difficult decision, and be prepared that multiple conversations may be necessary. Gather information and be ready to offer alternative methods of transportation so that a plan can be put in place that will allow for your loved one to engage in the activities he or she wants to.

Dr. Jill A. Grimes, MD
Family Practitioner

One of the most challenging issues with an aging family member is whether or not they should drive. As we age, most of us have significant decreases in hearing and vision, as well as delayed reflexes. But most older people fear they will lose their independence if you take away the car.

So, what can you do? First of all, encourage your aging family member to start using public transportation before he has to. In many parts of the country, this is no big deal, but in other parts, people rely on their own cars. Public transportation can be buses or trains in urban areas, but don't forget about the cabs.

Using a debit card (or a gift card—hint, hint) for a taxi service gives many people the independence they want to preserve without be limited by a set schedule or need to get to a specific bus stop or station. Often, regular clients form a working friendship with a specific driver, which creates the feeling of having a personal driver more than having to take a cab.

Shelley Webb
Nursing Specialist

When a person can no longer drive, they feel a huge loss of independence. But sometimes that loss is necessary in order to protect the loved one and other possible innocent victims. If you feel that your parent or loved one should no longer be driving, here are a few things that you might try if simple reasoning with them has not worked. Speak with their doctor and relate your concerns. Doctors are not uncomfortable taking the bad guy or gal role and elders will often give more credence to what their doctor says than to what a caregiver says. Also, you can consult an occupational therapist who will obtain a prescription for a driver's evaluation. If an elder does not pass, these results will be forwarded to the Department of Motor Vehicles who will then void their driver's license. If your aging parent or loved one doesn't live with you, be sure to take into consideration that they will still need transportation to doctor's visits, social events and to run errands.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.