How to Talk to an Elderly Parent About Not Driving Anymore

Share this content

Remember how excited you were when you turned 16 and you could finally drive? Oh, the freedom and the sense of pride! No more asking mom for a ride or being stuck at home.  

So maybe you can imagine what it’s like for your dad, who knows that his vision is failing and his reflexes have slowed but is terrified about what not being able to drive might mean for him: Now “The Man” behind the wheel thinks he will become an old man stranded at home with no keys, no freedom, no independence — no life.  

For many seniors, letting go of the ability to drive means letting go of their ability to get out of the house, connect with friends, run to the grocery store, and more. It also means relying on others for transportation, which just adds to the fear many aging parents have of “becoming a burden.”  

It’s not easy being the person to discuss driving with an aging parent, either. Maybe you’re grieving; it’s sad to watch your dad not being able to do the things that used to be easy and natural. Or perhaps you feel guilty about pointing out that your dad is no longer safe behind the wheel. 

But what if your dad really shouldn’t be driving anymore?  

Knowing what fears aging parents have about giving up driving will help you handle the conversations more compassionately and successfully.  

How to Talk to Elderly Parents About Not Driving Anymore 

If you’re thinking about suggesting to your aging parent that it may be time to stop driving, don’t. Starting a conversation that way can easily and quickly deteriorate into one of the most difficult conversations you will ever have.  

Why? Because it probably won’t feel like a conversation to your parent. To them, it’s likely to feel like a one-sided lecture full of judgments.  

Instead, if you can, have what-if conversations way before your parent’s driving abilities are even in question.  

Start with WhatIfs 

Long before your mom’s first fender bender, introduce the topic of “driving retirement,” rather than “hanging up” or “taking away” the keys. Maybe you’re going home for the holidays, and one morning over a cup of coffee you pose a what-if: “What if one day you don’t feel as confident behind the wheel anymore? Have you thought about what driving retirement looks like for you?”  

Another option might be, “What if I noticed that your driving is changing? What would be the best way to approach you, Mom?” 

By having conversations early and often about driving, and by asking your parent for their input long before a crisis happens, you’ll make future conversations easier for both parties because guidelines and expectations have been established. 

Understand Your Parent’s Fears 

It’s important that you really understand what giving up driving means for your parents — because it’s a lot more than just not driving anymore.  

Driving represents freedom and independence: the ability to visit friends, to spend lunchtime out at a restaurant, to come visit you when he wants to, to run to the store when he runs out of toilet paper, to make a quick trip to the grocery store, to take care of daily chores.  

Once your parent no longer drives, they’ll feel completely reliant on others for everything. Wouldn’t that make you angry and defensive, too?  

Acknowledge that this is difficult for your parent, and approach the subject respectfully. Begin the conversation by saying, “Mom, I know this must be hard for you.” 

Ask Your Parent About How They Feel 

Before you launch into a litany of reasons why your parent shouldn’t be driving, ask them about how they feel about their own skills. Does your mom feel she can easily and quickly turn her head from side to side? Can she see clearly in both eyes? How does it feel to turn a steering wheel? Can she quickly move her feet if she needed to push on the brakes?  

Pause after each question so your parent has time to think about their own skills. Encourage them to discuss their concerns, and don’t immediately jump in with solutions.  Your loved one is in the midst of mourning a major loss, and talking about it will help them come to terms with their grief. 

You could even say something like, “I know you’re probably worried that giving up driving would mean you have to give up some of your usual activities.” This type of response will encourage them to keep talking about their worries and reflect upon them. 

Have a Game Plan 

Whether your parent can drive or not, they still have places to go, errands to run, and people to see. Staying connected with friends and being active in the community is essential for preventing the negative effects of social isolation. 

It helps to come up with strategies that will enable your loved one to remain as independent as possible. First, remember that driving is not necessarily an all-or-nothing activity. There are many ways your parents can adjust their driving before giving it up entirely, such as:  

  • Avoiding driving at night 
  • Driving only to familiar locations 
  • Not driving in poor weather conditions 
  • Leaving plenty of time to get where they are going 
  • Not driving alone 

Other alternatives to driving include hiring a driver, taking advantage of community-based transportation programs, using on-demand ride services like Uber or Lyft, or arranging a ride schedule with family and friends.  

If your parent is ready to give up driving, it’s a great time to consider moving to an assisted living community that provides rides for their residents. For many seniors, driving retirement is easier to cope with if they’re living in a community with easy access to friends, delicious meals, and transportation services.  

Talking with elderly parents about driving retirement isn’t easy. That’s why it’s best to have the conversation proactively, rather than waiting for a crisis to occur. If you keep in mind that your parent is probably struggling with major life changes and have a game plan ready to help the transition seem smoother, you’ll increase the likelihood of finding solutions that balance the importance of safety with their need for independence. 

For more caregiving advice and resources delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to The Arbors monthly newsletter.  

 

  • Browse by Topics

  • Recent Posts

  • Have More Questions?

    Deciding to help a loved one transition to a senior living option is not an easy decision. We can help you get the clarity, answers, and support needed to lessen your worries and take the next steps.

    Click the button below to let us know how we can help you further.

  • Instant Access to the Program Overview Brochure

    Get more details about our signature Memory Care program to determine how well it will fit your loved one’s situation. Simply fill out the fields below to get access to the PDF.
    Reflections Memory Care Brochure Cover


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Have you decided that assisted living is the best option for your elderly parent, and now are feeling overwhelmed on how to begin your search for the right community?

    This guide will go over what you need to know before you make a decision.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Are you considering assisted living for yourself or a loved one but are hesitant about the cost? Assisted living costs, services and amenities vary greatly among the last and most expensive communities, and costs are higher in some states than others.

    This guide will answer questions you may have about the costs of assisted living and recommend resources to help you pay for it.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Talking to your aging parent about moving to an assisted living community isn’t easy.

    Often, many adult children avoid bringing it up because it can be a sensitive topic.

    This guide will provide you with helpful tips and insight on how to have a productive conversation with your parent and siblings regarding your parent’s future.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Difficult behaviors in elderly adults are very common. They may be an expression of frustration your loved one feels or a symptom of early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

    This guide will provide you with skills and knowledge on how to handle difficult behaviors your aging parent may be experiencing.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Becoming a family caregiver can be a rewarding experience. It also has its challenges.

    There are many questions to answer before making the decision to take care of a loved one.

    This guide will provide answers to questions you may have on this topic.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Is your parent or loved one depressed, or just in a bad mood?

    What does medication and illness have to do with depression?

    How can you help? In this guide, you will be provided with answers to the difficult questions you may have about depression.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Has your aging parent recently lost interest in activities they used to enjoy? Have you noticed a change in their mood and behavior?

    This guide will provide you with resources and tools on how to identify depression, what are the common causes of depression, and how to promote mental health in your aging loved one.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Does your loved one need more support than what they are getting? Would they benefit from some assistance with daily activities?

    In this guide, you’ll find answers to the most common questions asked about assisted living.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Where do you start searching for assisted living or memory care communities?

    What qualities in a community should you look for? How do you know you made the right decision?


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Has your dad stopped getting together for lunches or outings with friends or visits with neighbors? Have you stopped enjoying time with your parents because you’re a caregiver?

    Choosing an assisted living community is a big decision. Learn how to find the right one for you and your loved one.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    No one ever plans to be sick or disabled, and disasters, man-made or natural, can happen at any time, anywhere.

    Yet older adults are among the most vulnerable during a crisis. That’s why it’s critical that seniors, and those who care for them, prepare for emergencies.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Moving to assisted living is a life-changing event.

    This guide provides tips and ideas on downsizing, what to pack and how to make the transition smooth for your senior parent.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    In this eBook, you’ll learn how to talk with family and friends about caregiving challenges, how to deal with a parent who is resistant to help, how to get more caregiving help from your siblings, and how to keep your job while caregiving.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Have you had to cut back your hours at work to care for your mom? Are you worried about administering medications or injections?

    Have you stopped getting together with friends, either because you don’t have the time or you’re too exhausted? Are you becoming the invisible second patient?


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    A Guide to the Most Common Family Caregiver Challenges Associated with Caring for an Aging Parent.

    You’ll learn about the true costs of being a family caregiver, common family conflicts that can occur when caring for parents, and some of the unexpected challenges of caregiving.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    In this guide, you’ll learn about the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia, including the early symptoms of dementia; the seven stages of dementia and the symptoms that typically accompany each one; and the signs it’s time to start exploring your memory care options.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    In this guide, you’ll learn about the difference between assisted living and memory care, how health care professionals are trained in dementia care, common features of a memory care community, and questions you should ask when exploring your memory care options.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Navigating adult sibling relationships can be a challenge, but coming together for the sake of your parent is important.

    In this guide, you’ll learn about common sibling conflicts that arise when caring for parents, strategies for getting siblings on board, and where to turn to for help.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Assisted living can be a touchy subject. No matter how you approach it, your parent is likely to have objections to something.

    As you help them transition to a new stage of life, it helps to be prepared with answers to their questions and concerns.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    This checklist will help to make sure you are getting the most out of your visit to The Arbors.

    The list details what important questions to ask during your visit so you are able to make an enlightened choice and find the best assisted living community for your needs.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    If you’re unsure what Assisted Living looks like in real life, whether there is a difference with nursing homes or a desire to see how community life unfolds, then this guide is exactly what you need.

    A guide to discover the Care Team and a Typical Day in Assisted Living.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Have you decided that assisted living is the best option for your elderly parent, and now are feeling overwhelmed on how to begin your search for the right community?

    This guide will go over what you need to know before you make a decision.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Are you considering assisted living for yourself or a loved one but are hesitant about the cost? Assisted living costs, services and amenities vary greatly among the last and most expensive communities, and costs are higher in some states than others.

    This guide will answer questions you may have about the costs of assisted living and recommend resources to help you pay for it.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Talking to your aging parent about moving to an assisted living community isn’t easy.

    Often, many adult children avoid bringing it up because it can be a sensitive topic.

    This guide will provide you with helpful tips and insight on how to have a productive conversation with your parent and siblings regarding your parent’s future.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Difficult behaviors in elderly adults are very common. They may be an expression of frustration your loved one feels or a symptom of early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

    This guide will provide you with skills and knowledge on how to handle difficult behaviors your aging parent may be experiencing.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Becoming a family caregiver can be a rewarding experience. It also has its challenges.

    There are many questions to answer before making the decision to take care of a loved one.

    This guide will provide answers to questions you may have on this topic.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Is your parent or loved one depressed, or just in a bad mood?

    What does medication and illness have to do with depression?

    How can you help? In this guide, you will be provided with answers to the difficult questions you may have about depression.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Has your aging parent recently lost interest in activities they used to enjoy? Have you noticed a change in their mood and behavior?

    This guide will provide you with resources and tools on how to identify depression, what are the common causes of depression, and how to promote mental health in your aging loved one.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Does your loved one need more support than what they are getting? Would they benefit from some assistance with daily activities?

    In this guide, you’ll find answers to the most common questions asked about assisted living.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Where do you start searching for assisted living or memory care communities?

    What qualities in a community should you look for? How do you know you made the right decision?


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Has your dad stopped getting together for lunches or outings with friends or visits with neighbors? Have you stopped enjoying time with your parents because you’re a caregiver?

    Choosing an assisted living community is a big decision. Learn how to find the right one for you and your loved one.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    No one ever plans to be sick or disabled, and disasters, man-made or natural, can happen at any time, anywhere.

    Yet older adults are among the most vulnerable during a crisis. That’s why it’s critical that seniors, and those who care for them, prepare for emergencies.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Moving to assisted living is a life-changing event.

    This guide provides tips and ideas on downsizing, what to pack and how to make the transition smooth for your senior parent.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    In this eBook, you’ll learn how to talk with family and friends about caregiving challenges, how to deal with a parent who is resistant to help, how to get more caregiving help from your siblings, and how to keep your job while caregiving.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Have you had to cut back your hours at work to care for your mom? Are you worried about administering medications or injections?

    Have you stopped getting together with friends, either because you don’t have the time or you’re too exhausted? Are you becoming the invisible second patient?


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    In this guide, you’ll learn about the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia, including the early symptoms of dementia; the seven stages of dementia and the symptoms that typically accompany each one; and the signs it’s time to start exploring your memory care options.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    In this guide, you’ll learn about the difference between assisted living and memory care, how health care professionals are trained in dementia care, common features of a memory care community, and questions you should ask when exploring your memory care options.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Navigating adult sibling relationships can be a challenge, but coming together for the sake of your parent is important.

    In this guide, you’ll learn about common sibling conflicts that arise when caring for parents, strategies for getting siblings on board, and where to turn to for help.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Assisted living can be a touchy subject. No matter how you approach it, your parent is likely to have objections to something.

    As you help them transition to a new stage of life, it helps to be prepared with answers to their questions and concerns.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    A Guide to the Most Common Family Caregiver Challenges Associated with Caring for an Aging Parent.

    You’ll learn about the true costs of being a family caregiver, common family conflicts that can occur when caring for parents, and some of the unexpected challenges of caregiving.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    This checklist will help to make sure you are getting the most out of your visit to The Arbors.

    The list details what important questions to ask during your visit so you are able to make an enlightened choice and find the best assisted living community for your needs.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    If you’re unsure what Assisted Living looks like in real life, whether there is a difference with nursing homes or a desire to see how community life unfolds, then this guide is exactly what you need.

    A guide to discover the Care Team and a Typical Day in Assisted Living.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Cost Comparison guide

    You’re probably wondering how much the different senior living options compare to your current situation.
    If you do, then this guide is exactly what you need.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Updates on vaccine requirement and our commitment to health and safety during the COVID-19 crisisLEARN MORE
    +