Seeing our parents get older can be more painful than we expect. Their health might decline, and they may lose their independence over time. Often, children will do whatever they can to protect their parents, especially as they become more vulnerable. This is not an easy task, though.

For instance, it may be time for you to talk to your parents about their driving if you are concerned about their capabilities as a driver.

Signs a parent may need to stop driving

Age is a significant factor in a person’s ability to drive safely. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes, drivers over the age of 75 have a higher rate of fatal crashes than younger drivers. Further, every year, hundreds of thousands of senior drivers suffer severe injuries in a car accident.

However, there is more to a person’s safety behind the wheel than age. Your parent may need to stop driving if he or she is older and experiences the following conditions:

  • Vision loss or impairment without correction
  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Dementia
  • Restricted mobility
  • Delayed responses
  • Declining cognitive functions

If your parents experience any of these conditions, it may be time for them to stop driving.

How to talk to your parents

It can be very uncomfortable to bring up this subject with your parents, but putting it off can endanger their lives and the lives of others sharing the road with them. You can make the discussion easier by:

  • Focusing on their safety
  • Discussing the facts about the risk they pose to themselves and others
  • Expressing concern and being sensitive about how difficult this could be for them
  • Staying calm and composed
  • Helping them find alternate modes of transportation
  • Offering to drive them places 
  • Making a plan to stop gradually, such as restricting driving to certain areas or times of day

These approaches can help your parent recognize the risk of continuing to drive.

Again, this may be uncomfortable, and your parent may get upset. However, refraining from talking about it will not protect them or keep them from getting into a serious car accident.

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