August 19, 2010
(Provided By the AARP Driver Safety Program)
When it’s time for a loved one to retire from driving, consider who the messenger should be and how to deliver the message.
As you begin to have a conversation with an older driver about their driving, it is important to acknowledge the meaning of driving and important to observe driving in a systematic way through regular observations.
Talking to a family member or friend about driving requires careful thought and planning. Some reasons why we might avoid having conversations about driving include: worry about how person will react, worry about the impact on your life, and the responsibilities we’ll have to assume. Review the Conversation Inventory it can help all of us have sensitive and successful conversations. Two levels of conversations are outlined.
Driving safety is not an immediate concern. Anyone in the family can initiate general, casual conversations. Early, casual conversations about driving in general can lay a foundation for later, more serious conversations.
The goal is to have a person change driving behavior immediately. Consider who is the best person in your family or among friends to be the lead “messenger.” A mistake maybe to have person living farthest away or least emotionally vested to lead the conversation. The nature and quality of the relationship with the messenger will influence how receptive the older driver might be.
The older driver should believe that the messenger is someone whom they think has his or her best interest in mind. The messenger should be close enough to the older driver to know about the person’s driving ability and, if possible, his or her physical and mental capabilities for driving.
Opportunities for meaningful Level 2 conversations can include doctor’s visits; eye doctor’s visits; and changes in medication or health. Don’t wait for crash or traffic violation to have a conversation. Older drivers are more likely to dismiss crashes or traffic violations as not being common occurrences and not related to driving ability, especially if they are found to be not “at fault” in a crash. Drivers are less likely to think a crash alone warrants changes in driving behavior.
Getting lost while driving in a familiar area suggests possible cognitive problems. Getting lost may be caused by medication, physical illness, severe dehydration or a disease, such as dementia. Without delay, bring situation to doctor’s attention.
To speak with Sacramento Elder Lawyer Heather Chubb about your own estate planning or elder care needs, please call our Gold River estate planning office at 916-241-9661.