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Conversation Starters: Talk to an Indiana Senior about Giving Up the Keys

February 25, 2016

Conversation Starters: Talk to an Indiana Senior about Giving Up the Keys

The driving discussion is easily one of the most dreaded conversations adult children may need to have with their aging loved ones. It’s awkward and uncomfortable. Often times it leads to conflict.

Here are five steps you can take to make the conversation go a little more smoothly.

  1. Create a list of transportation options before you talk.

    Many of us are more agreeable to change if we know there is a plan in place and that we have a say in it. Providing your senior loved one with options but allowing them to be part of the planning process enables them to keep their independence and maintain their pride.

  2. Ask them how they feel about driving.

    You might be surprised to find they are fearful driving but don’t feel as if they have any alternative. They continue to drive because they don’t want to be a burden on family. This is where your list of options can be invaluable.

  3. Discuss their health.

    Chronic health conditions, medications side effects, and other aging issues can lead to declining driving skills. According to AAA, more than 75 percent of drivers age 65 or older take one or more medications each day, but less than 33 percent know the impact of their prescriptions on their driving performance.

  4. Use an example.

    An effective way to start discussing driving is to tell an actual (or fictional) story about a friend’s parent who experienced a minor car accident and how the family dealt with the new driving arrangements.

    For example, you can tell the story about Molly’s father, Dan. Dan backed into a car in the grocery store parking lot last week. Luckily, no one was injured, but it was still a scary moment. Dan didn’t see the car coming because his eyesight is poor and he ignored this health issue. Since the accident, Molly and her sister are helping Dan with rides to appointments and errands.

    A story shows that driving with health issues or other risks presents obvious concerns. It also proves that giving up the keys isn’t always a terrible option.

Finally, discuss the rewards associated with giving up the keys. The risks of driving with health issues are obvious, but the rewards of hanging up the keys are not always clear. Talk to your loved one about the time you can spend running errands and going to appointments together.

Also, remind them that not having to worry about their safety on the road will help give you peace of mind. When your aging loved one realizes you are here to help, they may be open to a productive conversation about giving up the keys.