Tips for talking to your aging parent about driving concerns

On Behalf of | May 20, 2024 | Personal Injury

As our bodies age, our physical and mental abilities tend to decline. This can be problematic on many fronts, but it can be especially dangerous when it comes to driving. If you have an older parent who continues to drive despite their decreasing ability to do so safely, then you know this issue all too well. And you’re probably worried that they’re going to be involved in a serious accident — whether it’s caused by themselves or someone else. What can you do to prevent this from happening?

Your best option is to talk to your parent about your concerns to see if you can find ways to keep them safe, which may include trying to convince them to give up driving altogether. But how do you even go about having that conversation? Let’s look at the issue a little more closely.

How to talk to your aging parent about their driving abilities

For many older individuals, driving is a signifier of their independence. Giving it up is therefore a major loss to them, leaving them feeling like another part of their normal life has been ripped away from them by old age. But your parents have to be safe, which is why you might want to consider doing the following to discuss their driving abilities:

  • Develop a plan for the conversation: Given the sensitive nature of this conversation, you shouldn’t start it thinking that you can improvise your way through it. Instead, carefully consider from whom your parent will best receive the message and find the right time to approach them. If you start the conversation when they’re already upset about something, then they’re bound to shut down and quickly lose interest in what you’re saying.
  • Articulate your concerns: Your parent may be completely unaware of how their driving abilities have declined. It’s imperative, then, that you specify what you’ve seen that causes concern. You don’t want to come across as accusatory or attacking, of course, so be kind, caring, and understanding while still getting your point across that the driving behaviors that you’ve witnessed are dangerous.
  • Provide alternatives: If your parent feels like giving up driving strips them of their freedom, then enter the conversation armed with suggestions for them to get around as they see fit. Public transportation has come a long way over the years, and ridesharing platforms can give them a more comfortable experience as they get around town.
  • Encourage them to talk to their doctor: If your parent won’t take your word for it when it comes to your perceptions of their physical and cognitive decline, then you should encourage them to get an opinion from their doctor. This medical professional might back up your position that driving is simply too dangerous for your parent, whether that be due to hearing and vision loss, cognitive decline, or the onset of a medical condition relevant to safe driving practices.

What should you do if your parent is hurt in an accident?

We hope that you’re able to keep your aging parent safe. But if your parent doesn’t listen or it’s too late to prevent them from being harmed in an injurious accident, then you need to know your next steps.

The first thing you need to do is secure medical care for your parent. Once you’ve done that and they’re stabilized in their treatment, then you might want to talk to them about whether legal action is warranted. If it turns out that your parent was hurt by another negligent driver, then a personal injury lawsuit might be their best option for recovering compensation for the harm caused to them.