Advice Assisted Living

When Should I Take Away the Car Keys?

Senior man and woman outdoors

My parents are starting to have problems driving. My sister and I have talked about this—and we want to balance caring for our parents while respecting their independence—but something needs to be done, and soon. What can we do?

One of the drawbacks of aging is losing one’s independence. And a really tough hurdle for adult children of parents is taking away the car keys.

With the number of drivers 70 and older increasing—and one in five Americans caring for an older loved one—the number of adult children concerned about their parents’ driving abilities is on the rise.

If you have any concerns, your first stop should be to learn the warning signs of diminished driving skills. Here are some of the warning signs: easily distracted while driving; hitting curbs; having trouble merging onto lanes; poor judgment making left turns; failing to follow traffic signs and signals; getting lost in familiar areas. You may not be with them while they are driving, so you can also look for dents/scratches on the car that weren’t there previously, or talk to their friends about it.

For most people, talking to a parent about their driving can be very difficult. So to help families have the conversation with older drivers, Benchmark Senior Living prepared “How to Talk to an Elderly Driver.”

Don’t forget, you’re not alone. Benchmark Senior Living’s team of Family Advisors can give concerned adult children information and strategies about approaching the older driver issue with their loved one. Some of the strategies include, just opening up the conversation by asking them how they feel about driving—what they love about it, what they don’t, and how it all makes them feel—and then offering some assistance to help them overcome any of their challenges. Chances are, if there is a real problem, the senior driver is a bit afraid and uncertain too, but are just looking for reassurance that they have a voice in the decision.

If you are still hesitant or unsuccessful, the Family Advisor team at Benchmark Senior Living is always available to do an in Home Visit to help facilitate the conversation.

Assisted Living, Independent Living
Having the Conversation