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How to talk to parents about aging and driving

As people get older, the less capable they become of safely driving on busy roadways. Decreased vision and reduced cognitive functions increase the likelihood of a senior citizen becoming involved in an accident. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 260,000 older adults had to visit the emergency room in 2015 as a result of an injury sustained while driving. 

If you are the child of an elderly parent, then you do not want to wait until he or she is too impaired to safely drive. It is important to have a conversation with your parent, but you want to go about this process carefully. Make it clear you come from a place of love and concern and that the last thing you want is for your loved one to end up in a motor vehicle accident

Take your parent to a doctor

An easy way for both you and your parent to obtain some clarity is to visit a physician. A doctor can conduct a vision test and other examinations to see if your parent can still drive. With a doctor's recommendation, you know whether it is safe for your parent to get behind the wheel. If the doctor says your parent should probably avoid driving, then he or she may be more receptive to hearing your arguments. 

Avoid confrontation

The last thing you want to do is take your parent's keys without informing first. Instead, place the conversation in the context of feeling concerned. Talk about how it would be more difficult for your parent to recover from an accident and whether your parent would feel safe driving with grandkids in the back seat. 

Suggest alternatives

Senior citizens still need to remain mobile, so you should suggest other ways for your parent to get around town. Perhaps you can offer to drive your parent to various locations on a schedule that works for both of you. 

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