By Jackie Tangires, LCSW-C, Certified Aging Life Care Manager, The Option Group
Do you remember the day you passed your driver’s certification test and received your official driver’s license? Oh, the joy! The sense of freedom that came with that small piece of paper. The ability to go where and when you wanted. It was a heady experiment in adulthood.
This responsibility should not be taken lightly; we know the havoc and heartache that dangerous driving can cause. Like so many things, life comes full circle, and the day arrives when it is time to surrender the driving privilege. The question for many aging folks (and for the children who love them) is when the right time is to relinquish this practice. Because first and foremost, SAFETY is paramount.
Let’s focus on the adult child’s viewpoint. Obviously, you know your parents or loved ones best, and this will be a difficult conversation. Know that your loved one will be defensive and angry if this subject is addressed too abruptly, too quickly, or without sensitivity. Never hesitate to bring in a professional for this discussion.
A conversation starter can be “how do you think you are doing, and do you have any concerns about driving?”. This might be in response to something that you saw, experienced, or heard about their driving.
Another approach might be to ask “are you OK if we both go out to look at your car, to make sure it is in good working condition?”. You want to ensure all the safety features are functioning properly. Take care to look at the outside of the vehicle to make note of dings, dents, and other obvious marks on the car. This exercise is a nice baseline, so that next time, you can compare. Taking pictures go a long way in establishing a record.
I suggest you review Maryland’s Resource Guide for Aging Drivers at https://mva.maryland.gov/Documents/MD-Resource-Guide-for-Aging-Drivers2.pdf. It was developed by the Maryland Older Driver Safety Forum. It is easy to navigate from the computer and very clear. Various topics are covered, including how health impacts driving, assessing driving skills, converting a driver’s license into an ID Card, and the MVA’s medical review process.
The MVA isn’t the only resource. There are companies that focus on your loved one’s “aging in place”. Connecting with these professionals who are often occupational therapists can be beneficial in a number of ways. In addition to being capable of assessing driving fitness, they can also provide some insightful tips for safer living in a variety of environments. They can make suggestions for modifications that can benefit your loved one for years to come.
Be prepared with alternatives to their driving.
- Depending on their driving skills, many mature drivers have already made modifications of their own (e.g., only driving during the day)
- Never driving in the rain
- Only driving to local well-known places
We all recognize this is a sensitive subject. Keep in mind this may take many conversations for all the implications to be digested and agreed upon, and that sometimes a third party may have more influence.
When your loved one benefits, so do you!
If you or someone you care about needs additional support to help cope, The Option Group is here to help. Please contact our professional care management team for assistance.
About The Option Group: Founded in 2010, The Option Group’s compassionate team of experienced Certified Life Care Managers serves families, their loved ones, medical professionals, and professional family advisors in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The firm understands the challenges of caring for an individual who needs assistance due to aging, dementia, disability, or serious illness. Their skilled providers possess over 100 years of combined experience navigating the healthcare maze and accessing hundreds of quality resources. The Option Group helps families spend quality time with their loved ones, providing clear choices that lead to better care. For more information, visit www.theoptiongroup.net or call 410-667-0266 (MD) or 717-287-9900 / 610-885-8899/ 215-896-6756 (PA) or 302-858-6449 (DE).