There’s a different level of concern that a parent has when their teenager is learning to drive compared to when their parents are losing the skill. If there’s one thing more stubborn than a teenager, it’s an independent senior citizen whose ability to drive is being threatened. The US Constitution protects seniors from arbitrary loss-of-driving-privileges based on their age, but that doesn’t mean that you need to live in fear of your parents being injured, or injuring someone else in an accident because medical obstacles to safe driving are recognized as reasons to revoke a driver’s license.
It Doesn’t Have to be Your Decision
Right now, 30 states have put tighter restrictions on renewals of senior drivers licenses. In some states, it’s more frequent vision testing, and in others, an annual driving test is required for renewal after a certain age. Every state has a public safety division that takes feedback from doctors and family members to determine whether a driver’s license should be revoked for dementia, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, a stroke, epilepsy or any other medical condition that may make driving unsafe. See what your home state’s requirements are and you might be able to avoid the conflict by having the decision come from a higher authority. The last thing any of us wants to do is belittle our parents by insisting they give up the keys.
Plan For Less Driving
If Mom’s doctor has suggested that she shouldn’t be driving as much, but her condition doesn’t meet the state’s standards for official restriction, then work with her to come up with a driving schedule. It might help decrease drive time to combine trips; reduce the necessity of common errands by signing your parents up for delivery services. If smartphones aren’t their superpower, you might want to set up the account on your phone and walk them through it or just have them call you with a grocery list. Getting them to embrace the technology is less important than keeping them off the road when you’re uncertain about their safety.
Appeal to Their Financial Situation
The cost of owning, maintaining and insuring a vehicle that’s seldom driven can be a burden, especially for seniors that are on a fixed income. If your parents are using their car once a week to run errands or for social visits, look at alternatives like Uber, Lyft or even a taxi cab. It might make sense to stop owning a car and to hire a driver instead. Insurance costs tend to rise for elderly drivers since they’re more likely to cause accidents, so you can use that as a lead-in to a conversation where you’re saving them money rather than interfering with their independence.
Losing driving privileges doesn’t have to mean a loss of independence. Limiting the amount of time spent driving is often all that’s necessary to reduce the risk of accidents. Friendship At Home specializes in helping seniors maintain their independent lifestyle. If you’re looking for ways to make life easier for your parents as they age, contact us or schedule a visit today.