Is it time to take the car keys? Almost every child has to have this conversation with their parent(s). Have you started to feel fear with your parent(s) driving? Whether you are your parent(s) full time caregiver or a concerned adult child, taking the first step is always the hardest.
Just because your parent(s) are a certain age should not be the reason why you feel it might be time to take the car keys away. There are many drivers in their 80’s and 90’s who are safe drivers. If we as a Nation are going to decide the ages of “safe driving”, in my opinion its the 16 – 19 year old’s who are the dangers on the streets.
We can’t just take our parent(s) car keys away for no reason. Those simple car keys do not just start a car, those car keys are their keys to independence and when you take that away, you take the risk of making your parent(s) feel one more step closer to their grave. However, there are loving ways to take the car keys away and the first step is to sit down and talk about it. Express your concerns with them and tell them why you feel it might be time to take away the car keys. And let me tell you from experience, you better have good ones. Put pen to paper and list your reasons why you feel it’s time to take away the car keys.
Some of the reasons to consider:
- Physical condition (we don’t think about it but driving take dexterity, ability and strength in both arms and legs/feet to control the vehicle at all times. Are there any physical limitations to consider? Maybe an easy answer is to simply move the drivers seat forward and upward or add a pillow for better control and vision over the hood of the car).
- Physical activity (builds strength and agility. Going for daily walk can help).
- Mental condition (For example, Alzheimer’s patients probably should not be driving).
- Diseases (severe diabetics may fall into a coma, for example. Ask their doctor about certain diseases and if it can affect their driving).
- Ability (do they have good reaction time from the gas pedal to the break pedal).
- Vision (cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy can hinder ones driving ability. A vision test might suggest eliminating driving at night, or to have a surgery to correct some conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma).
- Medications (some medications have side effects. Ask their doctor if they should be driving on certain medications).
- There are resources that do driving tests with the elderly to determine if they should be driving or not. This is a good way to have a third party interaction. This way you’re not the bad guy, someone else is telling them they can’t drive. But you must also be prepared because the end result might be “They are no danger on the streets.”
These bullet points could be a good starting point for you to discuss with your parent(s) about driving. But keep in mind, address the conversation with care, concern, sensitivity and most of all love. Maybe consider saying, “What can we do to make you a safer driver”, instead of just saying, “I’m taking your car keys away”, because you’re taking away much more than just car keys. Instead of focusing on “taking away the car keys”, maybe focus on your parent(s) making the decision to “give up their car keys”.