Difficult conversations: when to take the keys from your parents

Posted at 7:52 PM, May 01, 2022

According to statistics from the national highway traffic safety administration, there are more than 30 million senior drivers in the U.S.

Many adult children worry about their aging parent’s safety and the safety of others. But talking to a parent about driving can be emotional.

Driving isn’t just a way to get around. For many seniors, it’s a sign of independence and giving it up isn’t easy.

Phyllis Bouck, 98-Years-Old, says, “I don’t get on the highway and go slowly.”

Patricia Gamier, 93-Years-Old, adds, “It was not my choice. A young lady slammed her car into mine and demolished my car and put me in the hospital.”

In a recent survey, nearly 40 percent of people said the single hardest conversation they have with their aging parents was about handing over the car keys.

“Families and children would rather talk about funeral plans and selling a house before they would talk about taking away the keys from their adult drivers.” Explains David Bernstein, MD.

But the conversation does need to happen. Experts recommend talking to your parent early on about their driving before you even get concerned, so you can agree on a plan. If you think your loved one is putting themselves at risk, give specific examples of incidents that occurred.

Avoid being confrontational and listen to what they have to say. Lastly, present practical alternatives. You might suggest a taxi or ride-share service like Lyft or Go-Go Grandparent. Or, have family members come up with a schedule to drive your parent to important appointments. County transportation services may also provide free or low-cost rides. And set up a grocery or food delivery service, so they won’t have to worry about the essentials.

Statistics show drivers 65 years of age and older are 16 percent more likely than adult drivers to cause an accident.