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Matt Gurwell
Matt Gurwell
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Giving Up the Keys – Who Should Do the Talking?

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This is Part 2 of a 5 part series discussing the delicate issue of asking an elderly parent to retire from their driving career.

“NOT IT!”

In our previous article “Talking Sex and Talking Driving” we discussed six possible reasons why emotions and perceptions may play a role in distorting a family’s evaluation of driving abilities, however unintentional that distortion may be.

Today we will briefly discuss “who” should start the conversations with a loved one about a possible retirement from what was probably a long and successful driving career.

As we know, all family make ups are different and each family structure comes with its own, unique intricacies. Therefore, no two situations are ever the same. Fortunately certain studies have uncovered some common trends which are discussed below. But first let me say that how and when the family approaches this delicate issue can make all the difference in the world as to how it is received by the elderly driver.

Spouse: Men prefer to hear the information from their spouse slightly more than women do. The nice thing about having a spouse initiate the conversation is that 1) the spouse has more than likely personally observed poor driving, and 2) a spouse has experience in working through delicate and sensitive issues with his/her loved one.

Adult Child: For many reasons, hearing such news from an adult child works best when the adult child also happens to live nearby.

Doctor: The good news is that seniors are usually open to the opinions of their doctor, the bad news is that not all doctors agree that they are the best source for making driving-related decisions. Do you know of a time when a doctor didn’t even want to get involved with an older patient about driving-related issues?

Police Officer: More than anyone, older drivers do not want to have a driving-related conversation from the police, even if it is on a friendly basis. That’s not hard for most of us to understand.

There is a whole myriad of other individuals and professionals that can be used in the conversations. In our “Driving Intervention 101” program we also discuss the role these other individuals should play.

It should also be noted that this conversation with an older driver should not be one specific “event”. Rather it should be several little conversations over time. This approach will not only make the entire process more effective, but will also help protect the dignity and self-respect of your loved one.

Again, this article is meant to serve as a very basic introduction to the issue of driving conversations. In reality, there is a whole science dedicated to the topic and we have programs that can help you better prepare for these types of talks. However, in the absence of all other resources, if you simply remember to be guided by the following statement your conversations should prove successful:

“After driving safety, helping the individual maintain his or her dignity should be the #1 concern!”

To learn more about our unique and innovative programs and how we can help YOU, please visit Keeping Us Safe at www.keepingussafe.org or call us toll-free from anywhere in the U.S. at 877-907-8841.

In this article we discussed who should be involved in family discussions related to an elderly loved-ones driving.

In part 3 of this 5 part series, we are going to look beyond the obvious at why senior drivers are often reluctant to give up their driving (even when they know it’s the right thing to do) in an article titled “But I Can’t Give Up My Driving”.