Seniors, Children and Car Keys

Seniors, Children and Car Keys

According to research, adult children would rather talk to their parents about sex than driving and the car keys. 


Are your parents or loved-ones 70 or older?  You need to have the dreaded conversation with them about their driving, when they need to stop and how they will live their life in a post-driving periodFamilies with older drivers should keep an eye out for signs that could indicate it’s time to talkHitting a mailbox by inadvertently stepping on the gas pedal is one thing, hitting a four year old inadvertently is something entirely different – and something the senior and you would never forget and could send them into an irreversible tailspin.  Adult children need to have this conversation before the “sign” they are looking for comes and it is not the mailbox that is hit. 


Studies found that 75 – 95% of adult children think this is the most uncomfortable conversation they will have with their parents.  And a frightening 25% of adult children say they won’t have the conversation at all no matter what.  Only 38% of boomers think their parents will understand and be open to a conversation about driving.  They believe their parents will be angry or hurt (46%), say it’s too hard to find other transportation (31%) and will be more determined to keep driving (22%). 


Boomer children’s top concerns regarding their parents’ driving are poor eyesight, driving too slow, poor hearing and driving distracted.  Health issues can severely impact senior driving. The most serious are arthritis, diabetes and blood sugar levels.  Arthritis (80% of people in their 70s) weakens muscles, reduces flexibility and limits range of motion so to restrict senior drivers’ ability to grip and turn the steering wheel, press the accelerator or brake, or reach to open doors (AAA).  Diabetes may affect how drivers interpret and react to the driving environment (AAA).  Blood sugar levels can cause dizziness, sleepiness, confusion, blurred vision, loss of consciousness, seizures, nerve damage in hands, legs, feet, etc. (American Diabetes Assn)


So what do adult children do?


Look for Signs

  • Scrapes on the car’s bumper, garage door or mailbox
  • Any moving violations or warnings.


Before Your Conversation

  • Ride with them and observe.  How aware they are of the situation around them.  Do they seem confused or unsure?  How slow are their reaction times?  Are they running a stop sign or other drivers honking more than usual?
  • Look into local options and be prepared to discuss
  • Alternative transportation such as local shuttles, family, friends, neighbors, caregivers, services like Uber/Lfyt.
  • Coordination of rides with others who are going to the same event such as religious services/events, community events, book clubs, bingo, bridge, poker, etc.
  • Local shopping via telephone with delivery for groceries, laundry, other items


Your Conversation

  • Choose a stress-free time and setting – not during a holiday meal!
  • Choose the right person to initiate the conversation – the best person may be outside the family such as a family friend, neighbor or doctor
  • If the person having the talk is outside of the family, provide them the information you have collected and discuss with them ideas and approach
  • Respect is key – approach the parent with the utmost respect and dignity – they are your loved-ones
  • Use a respectful voice
  • Consider beginning the conversation with a question about how they feel when driving
  • Listen to what they say and truly hear their concerns
  • Frame the conversation in a positive light
  • Highlight your concern for their safety and the safety of others – especially children which will resonate with them
  • Don’t get drawn into an argument, be kind and patient
  • If needed, suggest an evaluation from a driver’s rehabilitation specialist or professional driving instructor
  • When the conversation moves in the direction of alternatives, use the research you have already done
  • And, have realistic and reasonable expectations; they’ve been driving for more years than you’ve been alive – this may only be the first of a series of conversations


This IS one of the most important conversations adult children will have with their loved-ones.  Let me know how your conversations go.  And if you need help starting the conversation call us – we are here for you.


If you have questions or need information about your loved-one’s life issues don’t hesitate to reach out to us.  We love helping our clients get the information they need from personal issues to daily money management, home management and more.  Call me at 305-646-1833 or email me at Corrine@theseniorsanswer.