INALA Conversations: Discussing Driving

Jul 01 2016

INALA Conversations: Discussing Driving

Starting a conversation about health, finances and living situations with a loved one can be difficult- but it doesn’t have to be. The INALA Conversations series is a resource to help prepare you for those discussions. Let us help guide you through these important conversations with some helpful tips and insight. Positive communication is key!

Driving means independence, control and access to adult life. Conversations about driving safety can be highly emotional. Have a plan!

Know the Facts:
• Age is not the sole predictor of driving ability. For most of us, age brings a decline in physical and mental abilities.
• Driving is a complicated task involving multiple skills plus good vision, cognition and physical ability to control a vehicle.
• People generally don’t wake up one day unable to drive. So if you plan early, you may be able to put off the day when driving is no longer safe.
• Older drivers and teenagers are involved in far more crashes and highway fatalities than any other age groups.
• Some older adults are afraid to ask for help, thinking they will be forced to stop driving.
• Delaying “the talk” until the day you think driving is dangerous is a bad idea.

Turning Concern into Action: The Conversation
• Who will be heard best…one person or several loved ones?
• Use “I” messages. For example: “I am concerned about your driving safety” rather than, “You aren’t safe to drive.”
• Highlight safety for the older adult and those with whom they share the road.
• Don’t be surprised by expressions of grief, anger, fear, denial and defensiveness.
• Explain ways older adults are taking control of their safety (changing how and when they drive, taking safe driving classes, doing their own self assessments, modifying their vehicles, and seeking help with vision, medications and physical abilities).
• Develop alternative transportation plans to ensure the older person maintains as much independence and control as possible.

The Next Step in Life’s Journey
Is it time to start discussing senior living options? Most assisted living communities provide transportation to appointments and shopping. Plus, they have on-site chapels, beauty salons and activities so older adults don’t have to give up necessary and enjoyable activities. Find an assisted living community, arrange a tour, and think about the next step on life’s journey.

Here are a few resources to assist you: 
The American Occupational Therapy: Driver rehabilitation specialists
AARP Driver Safety Program
AAA Safe Driving Program
CarFit: Vehicle modification suggestions
IN.gov BMV: Reporting potentially unsafe drivers
Area Agency on Aging: Information about transportation options.