Giving up driving: how to approach the topic with elderly loved ones

Giving up driving: how to approach the topic with elderly loved ones

Driving in later years can be a real lifeline, providing much-needed freedom and also being a connection to friends and family. However, there may come a time where you become concerned that a relative is no longer fit to drive. This is often an extremely difficult and emotional situation, as giving up driving represents a huge loss of independence.

When to give up

Unless the DVLA or a doctor have declared that your relative is not allowed to drive, it is ultimately their decision to stop. They must renew their driving licence every three years after turning 70, but there are no laws on what age they must stop driving.

If you feel that an elderly loved one has become a danger to themselves and other road users, then it’s important that you find a way to talk to them about it. While it is true that the risk of motor vehicle crashes is actually higher among younger people, different factors make it unsafe for elderly people to continue driving, such as the effects of medication, eyesight problems, hearing loss, mobility problems or memory problems.

How to discuss giving up with an older relative

If a relative is in denial about their level of safety on the road, this can often cause conflict. But there are ways of approaching this sensitive topic that will reduce the potential for arguments. First and foremost, we recommend starting discussions as early as possible and opening the conversation with patience and understanding.

Talking about giving up driving as something that will happen in the future will give your relative time to adjust to the idea, and also to consider possible alternatives for getting around, without having to change their lifestyle immediately. Plus, if you start talking about the topic early, it might be the case that your relative may not need to give up driving completely at that point. They might limit themselves to driving shorter distances or driving only during the day, while you talk about transport alternatives for when they do give up completely.

Providing alternative ways in which an older loved one can maintain their independence will make a huge difference and will soften the blow of giving up their driving licence. For example, family members could take turns weekly driving them to the shops, church or appointments. Or you could think about your relative moving closer to a village or town centre, where they can easily walk to stores. Another alternative is at-home care – here at Unique Senior Care, we can support our clients with transportation, so they can still attend appointments and social events.

Other tips:

  • Involve them in the decision as much as possible – it is a better outcome for them to decide it is time for them to give up driving, rather than having their licence ‘taken away’ from them by family members.
  • Ask them how they feel about driving and their abilities and limitations – this might indirectly open up the conversation about them giving up and any worries they have.
  • Focus on the importance of safety and health – this will be a more effective approach than criticising specific driving faults (such as bringing up an incident when they hit the kerb).
  • Be prepared to have multiple conversations – often it will take time to adjust to the idea of not driving and what it will mean.
  • And finally…always be patient and sensitive to their feelings – put yourselves in their shoes and think about how you would feel about not being able to just pop out to the shops or to see a friend without advance planning.

Our Transportation service

Here at Unique Senior Care, our services are not limited to providing assistance within our clients’ homes. We are committed to helping them with whatever they need in order to continue living fulfilling lives at home, by supporting all aspects of their day-to-day lives – and this includes attending appointments and social events. We can therefore provide transportation to help with this. Find out more about our Transportation service here.

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