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Tips for talking to an aging loved one about driving

Many people were taught how to drive by their parents. Once they turned 16, they got their learner’s permit and hit the road with a parent riding shotgun and showing them the ropes. Eventually, the teen passed their driver’s test on their own and then became a trusted member of the driving community. Parents would then toss the keys to their children if they needed transportation for a night out with friends.

Down the road the situation flips. Some may be forced to take the keys away from their aging parents or family member if they become a danger to themselves or others.

A driver’s mind is constantly making split-second decisions and assessing the ever-changing situations that arise on every trip. All of this can be difficult for seniors who have impaired vision or slowed reflexes.

The ability to drive is one of the last forms of independence that seniors are able to retain. Some seniors have been driving for more than 75 years and are accustomed to traveling anywhere they want at any time. Without the ability to drive, a senior may be left with new feelings of dependence and isolation that can be difficult to handle.

When bringing up the topic of ceasing driving, it is important to listen to what the senior has to say. They may immediately protest with reasons they need to drive. Make sure they realize that their concerns are heard and everyone understands why driving is important to them. They might say that they don’t want to feel like a prisoner in their own home, they don’t want to rely on others to go to medical appointments or they like to go out for a cup of coffee each day. All of those are valid concerns, but more importantly, will help their loved ones understand why driving is important to the senior.

As with any good conversation, one simply can’t present the problem without some solutions. Be prepared to discuss alternative options to make the potential change better for all parties, or lifestyle changes that could ease the transition into a life without driving.

If the bus is a viable option moving forward, ride it with them to ease trepidation and anxiety about the new form of transportation. Help them develop routines that don’t rely so much on driving around. See if the senior has friends they can get rides from or if any local organizations offer free rides for the elderly. Also, medical offices may provide rides for their patients.

It is also important to discuss the topic in a way that encourages the senior to come up with a solution themselves. They are much more likely to buy into a change if they are involved with the entire process, even if it happens reluctantly.

While taking away independence from someone who has done what they wanted, when they wanted for decades can be difficult, senior living residences like The Wesley Community can help to take the sting out of this change. The Wesley Community is well-versed in helping seniors make lifestyle transitions that come with age.

Additionally, many senior residences, including The Wesley Community, offer transportation to the grocery store or medical appointments. Residents will oftentimes have the chance to take trips planned by the community to local attractions or events. This type of transportation provides seniors with a way to enjoy themselves and complete necessary tasks without being a prisoner to the walls of their home.

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