The need to depend on others for transportation can cause panic, anxiety and even depression, so it’s important to respect their feelings and give them time to process. If possible, making your loved one feel like part of the decision can go a long way in easing the transition.
Get Started on the Right Foot
Rather than coming at your parent with emotion-based concerns for their safety or examples of worrisome behind-the- wheel behavior, try to begin a dialogue about how driving ability changes for all of us as we age. Changes in vision, hearing or mobility; fatigue; prescription medications or chronic conditions; these are just some of the factors that can affect our safety on the road. Not sure how to get started? Check out The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence’s free, downloadable publications on how to begin family conversations about driving safety.
Enlist the Professionals
If your parent rejects the idea that their ability to drive may have declined, you don’t need to be the “bad guy” on your own. There are a variety of programs offered through insurance companies, hospitals and other agencies that work with seniors to educate them on age-specific driving issues, assess driving skills, and when necessary, advise on when it may be time to let others do the driving. Start by contacting your parent’s doctor, or your local Department of Motor Vehicles. Provided your loved one agrees to a revaluation, if it is indeed time for them to surrender their license, that advice may be better taken from a professional than from a family member.
If you think your parent might respond well to advice from a peer, the Colorado Neurological Institute’s website features a sobering video made by a gentleman who was asked not to drive by his children. He did drive, and unfortunately caused an accident that took someone’s life. The video can be found here. The Institute also offers the DriveABLE Cognative Assessment tool, an on-site assessment program that accurately predicts on-road driving performance. The assessment requires a prescription from a physician, and is used to ascertain when changing abilities from aging are affecting safety behind the wheel.
Forcing the Issue
Of course, persuading an elderly parent to voluntarily stop driving is preferable, but if this isn’t possible, there are legal avenues one can take to have an unsafe driver’s license revoked. These procedures vary state by state. In Colorado, a letter must be written to the Department of Revenue, including your name, the driver in question’s name, and your relationship to the driver as well as an explanation of why you feel this person’s driving abilities should be reexamined. After being reviewed by the Department, a letter to the driver will be issued, explaining that a report has been filed and requesting that the driver report to a center for reevaluation (which may involve written and/or behind-the-wheel testing, depending on the situation). If the driver does not report for testing within the specified time frame, their license is automatically revoked. It is important to note that although the letter to the driver may not include the name of the person who filed the report, you cannot remain anonymous; the Department of Revenue will, under law, release this information if asked by the driver.
Know Your Options
One way to make sure your parent doesn’t feel isolated after giving up driving is by making sure they are aware of the alternative transportation options in his area. Click here to find AAA’s links to senior-friendly transportation programs by region, or give Elder Concierge Services a call at 720-217-8137 to see if our customized, door-through-door transportation services might be a good fit for your family.