Driving has long been a sign of freedom and responsibility for many, even more so for a great deal of the male population. Due to the complications that come about as we age, driving slowly becomes less of an option as eye sight begins to fail, reaction times slow, and other physical and mental factors play into making the act of driving a danger to the senior and those around him. There's no fun way to tell your dad that he can no longer freely operate a vehicle on his own, and even if you follow some of these steps, the chances are high that he will be deeply upset and frustrated. It's important to remain calm, understanding, and patient as he works through this new adjustment in his life.
- Have a Plan Ready: One of the most helpful things to do is to have a plan ready and in place before you tell your dad that he's no longer going to be able to drive. Be sure to have alternate means of transportation ready, whether that's through a driving service, a home health aide, or a family member such as yourself. Evaluate your parent's schedule of events during the week, and make sure that there is always someone available to transport him to his activities and to such things as doctor's appointments or the grocery store.
- Be Ready for Objection: Being told that the freedom of being able to drive is being taken away is going to scare, hurt, and frustrate your dad immensely. Be prepared for him to lash out and possibly become emotionally and physically agitated. The idea of not being able to move freely is a very scary thought for many seniors, and the milestone of no longer being able to drive can remind some seniors of their increasing age, which can also cause anxiety and frustration. Be sure to allow your dad to express his thoughts and reactions freely, and be sure to listen to his worries and concerns carefully. Explain in detail why he is no longer able to drive, elaborate on the safety risks, and immediately back that up by explaining the plan put in place to ensure that your father will still be able to get out and about as much as he wishes.
- Keep the Car: Just because your dad is no longer able to drive, that doesn't mean that any of his personal vehicles need to go. Seniors enjoy stability and familiarity, so even if it's a family member or a home aide that will be transporting your dad to and from his activities, doing so in one of his own cars may lessen his sense of anxiety and make him feel more at ease with the situation at hand.
As with all transitional periods in a senior's life, the biggest help comes from the love, kindness, and understanding that those closest to them can offer. While the idea of not being able to drive will be a difficult pill to swallow for a little while, the overall anxiety and frustration should lessen with a bit of sympathy and active listening from their loved ones.
As you are learning to deal with the changes that aging can bring, be patient with yourself, patient with your loved one, seek advice and answers to questions, and remember you are not in this alone. Contact a Caring Senior Service team member today!