Giving up the car keys

To many older people, and younger ones, too, driving is an active symbol of independence. Giving up the keys is a huge event, and one with which loved ones struggle. If you are concerned about an aging relative’s ability to drive safely, it is critically important to address the issue before an accident happens.

In Minnesota, driver’s licenses are generally good for four years. If issues arise during the time someone has a valid license, how can you handle the problem?

When my husband was going through cancer treatment, medications were slowing his responses and it became obvious he was a danger to himself and others on the road. When I approached the subject, he argued he had always been the safest driver around, never had tickets, etc. And after all, those days about all he did was drive to the grocery store and back. Unfortunately, a supermarket parking lot can easily be a very dangerous place to drive. Imagine if neuropathy makes it hard to hit the brakes in time when a child runs out from between cars, or if macular degeneration creates a blind spot when backing out.

Rather than addressing this issue with your loved one yourself, it can help if someone the person respects and trusts but is not emotionally connected with, like a doctor or pastor, be the one to bring up the subject in private. A one-on-one conversation isn’t threatening, and there is less basis for becoming defensive. The important result of this calm and truthful conversation is the person making the final decision to stop driving, instead of being told to do so.

Even if giving up driving is a temporary measure, it will bring relief to loved ones, and ensure the safety of everyone. However, if this conversation does not solve the dangerous driving issue, it must be addressed some other way.

Learn more about guest blogger and senior writer Gloria VanDemmeltraadt

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