In our last blog post, Should My Elderly Parents Stop Driving, we discussed the warning signs indicating an elderly parent is an unsafe driver. If you determine a parent may be unsafe to drive, there are three ways to address it:
First, have a conversation with your parent. While families dread this conversation, it is an important and possibly life saving talk. Remember losing the privilege to drive often equals loss of freedom and independence. Your parent will be very sensitive to this. Ideally, your family should have this “talk” long before your loved one is in an accident or worse. To help ensure this talk with your parent is not confrontational plan the beginning of the conversation in advance.
Next, create a plan that will allow your elderly parent to get around without driving. Even though your elderly parent may be willing to stop driving, she will still need groceries, to get to the doctor, and go for social events. Having a plan will may ease your elderly parent’s fears of loss of freedom or social isolation.
Finally, if your elderly parent is unwilling to stop driving and you believe he or she is an unsafe driver, you may have to report them to your state’s department of motor vehicles for evaluation. In many states this report is anonymous. Instructions can be found on most state websites. In Florida, unsafe drivers are reported to the Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles.
Because this issues affects families throughout the United States, states are developing “safe driver” programs and resources. The Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles has created the Florida’s Guide for Aging Drivers to and the Safety is Golden program to provide information and resources to help elderly Floridians continue to drive as long as safely possible.