If you have a senior parent, one of the most frustrating things about caring for them is to get them to accept the ways in which their life has changed. In fact, failing memory can force you to have the same conversations with your parent multiple times. While any conversation can be frustrating for both of you, one issue that becomes a common bone of contention in many families involves driving privileges.
Stop Telling Them They Can’t Drive
The first thing to keep in mind is that telling your senior parent that they can’t drive anymore is never going to end well. They have been driving their own vehicles for decades. You will never convince them that they’re a danger to themselves or others when they get behind the wheel. Additionally, making blunt statements about their driving abilities will only serve to upset them even further. Your goal should be to engage your parent in a constructive conversation about the issue of their driving and their ability to get around town.
Try to Be Diplomatic
Instead of criticizing your parent’s ability to drive, point bout the increased dangers they face on the road. Mention how bad traffic has been lately, or discuss how your parent’s failing eyesight makes it more challenging to drive when it’s dark. You should try to express the concern you feel for your parent without making it seem like you don’t trust them.
Suggest an Alternative Plan
Before you have this conversation with your parent, you should already have a plan in place. You might offer to pay for taxi rides or bus passes whenever your parent needs to run errands. Alternatively, you might offer to have a family member take them where they need to go. If your parent doesn’t like any of your suggestions, ask them for ideas. The goal should be to get them involved in the issue. This will help them to be more open to your ideas.
Whether you’re discussing their driving abilities or another matter, you should always try to be respectful in talking to your senior parent. Find ways to communicate that will help your parent feel involved in making decisions about their own life. They will be far more willing to consider your recommendations when they don’t feel as though you’re forcing them to make changes that will limit their independence.