Are your parents one of the 40.1 million licensed drivers over the age of 65? How is their driving record? Do they frequently drive alone or with another person? Have there been recent accidents? Has the time come when your parents can no longer independently drive themselves to the grocery store or doctor’s appointment?
We know this is not an easy concept to think or conversation to have with your parents. We also know that the conversation of handing over the keys to freedom may go smoother in some situations over others. No matter how the conversation itself goes, however, let’s fast forward and say that your parents are now depending on you, a third party or a service for transportation.
What can you do to help your parents find their independence again? Here are 3 ways you can assist a parent who can no longer drive:
1. Communicate! Try to understand how they are going to handle this change and offer your help to get them through it. Their loss of independence may not only bring up hurt feelings but a loss of self and independence. These issues can lead to depression, which you want to work with your parents to prevent.
2. Research! Understand what is out there in your parents’ community that can help both you and them. Are their reliable buses or subways? Are their vans or other methods of transport just for seniors? Reaching out to the local senior center, local AARP or even your parents’ Chamber of Commerce is a great place to identify help. For example, here in Steuben County, New York, we have the New York Office of Aging that is able to answer many of these local questions. Don’t forget to ask about payments and special services for parents who may not be able to ambulate well.
3. Plan! Take time to sit down and plan the right solutions for you and your parents. Figure out the options that will work best for the both of you. Present them with options but listen to what they need and make this, as much as possible, their choice.
Through taking the time to plan for the options available, you can ease your parents’ transition and not risk tension within your relationship! Don’t hesitate to ask family members, doctors, therapists, clergy and friends, to help you as your parents work through this difficult type. Remember to stay in communication and be there for your parents as much as possible.