When to say “When” – Seniors & Driving

When to say “When” – Seniors and Driving

by Andrea Leavitt

One of the most difficult decisions in a senior’s life is deciding when it is time to stop driving.  Some find this decision easy, while others struggle and resist, grieving the loss of independence.

Driving is a common worry for adults with elder parents.  They want their parent to have the freedoms they have always enjoyed, but worry when they see the car parked oddly or notice scraps on the bumper.  Here are some topics to guide the decision of when to say “when” to driving.

  1. Speak about it early and often.
    Make this topic a common one in the family.  Use experiences of others as conversation starters.  Ask the senior how they will decide when it is safer for others to do the driving.  Brainstorm alternative options for transportation with them and try them.
  2. Consult a physician/geriatrician and get a medical opinion.
    The perspective of this professional can make it easier on the family.  One physician suggested the Grandchild Test.  He said, “Would you trust your parent to drive the grandkids?  If the answer is “no”, then it’s time for them to stop driving.”
  3. Educate yourself on the Department of Motor Vehicles processes in your state.
    Learn about the laws and renewal requirements for seniors.   If you have concerns about your parent’s driving and they are resistant to considering other options, consider making an anonymous report to the DMV.  They will send a letter that requires the senior to come in for an assessment.
  4. Research driving evaluation programs.
    There are well qualified professionals at some rehabilitation facilities who specifically assess a senior’s ability to drive safely.  This is accomplished thru a battery of tests which address physical abilities and cognition.  AARP also offers less intensive safe driver program.
  5. Enlist support and Get Creative.
    Attend support groups and learn how others manage this topic.  Professional support can be the answer.  Care Managers have knowledge and experiences that can benefit your loved one.


This video from the Aging Life Care Association provides a very creative approach on this difficult subject.

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