Begin a Discussion about Driving
People age at different rates and age-related problems affecting driver performance do not occur at the same rate or to the same degree. To prepare for the conversation with the older driver, begin with fact finding, such as car crashes, unsafe driving, two or more traffic tickets within two years, increases in car insurance premiums because of collisions, getting lost when driving on familiar streets.
Family members can ride with the older driver to look for the strengths of the older driver's performance, and consider how to strengthen the weaker areas. Family members can look for the contributing factors to driving problems such as difficulty hearing, seeing, alcohol misuse, medication reactions, problems with neck flexibility in turning to see traffic on the left or right.
After identifying problems, family members can develop supportive strategies to respond to these challenges. The beginning conversation should focus on preserving independence (not necessarily by driving) and exploring strategies to strengthen safety. Family members should share concerns and support the importance of a driver's license and transportation needs and ask the older driver about his or her feelings on driving and how to determine when to begin alternatives to driving.
Let the driver know that the conversation is not about taking away the car keys, but about choices to stay safe and connecting to the community and the things that are important to the driver. Be a good listener. Don't argue if the driver denies the fact. Leave the door open for future discussions.