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How Do You Convince Your Aging Parent to Hand Over the Keys?

Driving is an American institution. It can be very hard to convince an aging parent that they may want to consider not driving anymore. This goes even more so for an aging parent suffering from dementia symptoms.

A part of what makes things difficult is that while an aging parent might be capable of understanding the decline in his or her driving abilities, a parent with dementia may not actually be aware that anything has changed. When they wake up in the morning, they may go back to a time when they were a perfectly capable driver, and you may find that convincing them otherwise is a daunting task. Here are some tips to help you with the conversation:

1. When making your case, look for evidence

Does your loved one get lost often when he or she drives? Has she gotten any tickets? Has he or she been in any dangerous situations, or even worse, accidents?

All of these things are proof that driving may not be a good idea, and you can use them when making your case, with the caveat that your parent may have limited understanding or recollection of the events you’re describing.

2. Offer alternative ways to get around

Driving is often not so much about driving, as it is about independence and being able to go anywhere one wants to. If you’re trying to convince your loved one to stop driving, offer them a different way to get around.

For example, if they have regularly scheduled trips to the store or to see friends, find a family member or friend who can give them a ride. Alternatively you can even give them a taxi or Uber “budget” that promises to take them anywhere they want to go, virtually anytime they want to go there.

3. Take control of the keys

The honor system is great, but if you do find that your loved one is still driving more than they should be, you might have to actually take the keys away to ensure that they stay safe.

4. Let them drive in a highly controlled environment

After all that, your loved one may still just like the experience of driving. Letting them drive is a serious decision, so be extremely conservative when it comes to gauging their symptoms and their capabilities. But if you do find that they’re still capable of driving, under supervision, consider taking them out on a basic route, at a time when the roads are relatively clear (such as early weekend mornings). He or she will appreciate being given a sense of control and a chance to relive his or her glory days.

Do you need help figuring out if your loved one might need more help around the house? Take our 5 Minute Home Care Quiz, which will help you score your loved one’s well-being on 6 different parameters!

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