Of all the conversations an adult child does not want to have with the parents, it’s talking about when to take away that parent’s ability to drive. As we get older, we all lose some abilities, and the ability to safely operate or drive a car is commonly lost. There is no one way to approach this conversation, but there are factors you can talk about.
If an elderly person has medical conditions that make it unsafe to operate a vehicle, these are the clearest indications that it has come time to take away the keys. A loss of visual acuity, motor control, or anything that impacts reaction time or driving skills should immediately prompt you to have the discussion.
Even if a parent doesn’t have a medical condition that directly impacts his or her ability to drive, the medications they take will often impair their ability. Asking a parent what medications they are on and discussing how those medications affect them is critical. If you aren’t sure if medication impacts driving ability, you can consult with a doctor or pharmacist.
Many people lose driving abilities not because of any specific medication or medical problem, but because of the general decline in cognitive abilities that often accompanies aging. They can be helpful to periodically travel with the parents as a passenger and take note of his or her driving abilities. Cognitive decline can happen slowly, yet steadily, and observing driving behavior directly is often a good way to notice significant declines in driving ability.