Helping Older Drivers Give Up the Car Keys
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Many seniors reduce their driving voluntarily as their abilities decline, but many unknowingly become unsafe to themselves and other motorists. Wrestling the keys from an older parent’s hands can be a difficult, though important, chore. The trick is know when and how to do it. Here are some tips and resources that can help.
Start with an Assessment
If you need help with this, consider hiring a driver rehabilitation specialist who’s trained to evaluate older drivers. This typically runs between $100 and $200. Visit the American Occupational Therapy Association website (AOTA.org/older-driver) or the Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED.net) to locate a specialist in your area.
Transitioning and Talking
These courses will show him how aging affects driving skills, and offers tips and adjustments to help ensure his safety. Taking a class may also earn him a discount on his auto insurance. To locate a class contact your local AAA (aaa.com) or AARP (aarp.org/drive, 888-227-7669). Most courses cost around $20 to $30 and can be taken online or in a classroom.
If, however, your assessment shows that your parent really does need to stop driving, you need to have a talk with him, but don’t overdo it. If you begin with a dramatic outburst like “dad, you’re going to kill someone!” you’re likely to trigger resistance. Start by simply expressing your concern for her safety.
For more tips on how to talk to your parent about this, the Hartford Financial Services Group and MIT AgeLab offers a variety of resources at TheHartford.com/lifetime – click on “Publications” on the menu bar, then on the “We Need To Talk” guidebook.
Refuses To Quit
If he still refuses, contact the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety to see if they can help. Or, call in an attorney to discuss with your parent the potential financial and legal consequences of a crash or injury. If all else fails, you may just have to take away his keys.
To find out what transportation services are available in his area, contact the Rides in Sight (RidesInSight.org, 855-607-4337) and the Oklahoma Senior Info. line (800-211-2116), which will direct you to his area agency on aging for assistance.