How to talk to aging parents about giving up driving

Your folks have always been there for you. They helped you learn to ride a bike and taught you how to drive. It is not easy to watch them grow old and lose the capabilities they once had. But as people age, so do their senses. Sight, hearing and reflexes all diminish over time, even in the healthiest of individuals.

When these things start to go, it may be time for your parents to park the car for good. But how do you broach such a sensitive topic without offending them?

Openly discuss issues you have noticed

The notion that your parents should stop driving came from somewhere. Likely, you have noticed concerning new behaviors. Find a time to have an honest discussion free of interruptions. Approach your parents gently, but be honest. Talk to them about things you have noticed lately. Are they having trouble hearing or seeing? Have you found scratches along their vehicle’s sides or missing mirrors or hubcaps? Are they more forgetful than usual? All of these signs point to a decline in driving ability.

Express your concern for the safety of others

Remind your loved ones that others could get hurt if they cause a wreck. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers over 65 accounted for 14% of fatal car accidents in 2018. If your mom or dad caused a crash, they would have to deal with the guilt of harming someone. They could also be liable in a court case.

Remember, many see hanging up their keys as giving up their independence. Have empathy, and offer to help them through the transition.