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December 6, 2016

If you are noticing that your aging parent is starting to experience cognitive changes or slow reaction times, you may be wondering if they should continue driving on the road. Many sandwich-generation individuals caring for aging parents and teenagers may have parallel experiences getting one family member on the road and the other off the road. While teenagers learning to drive are gaining independence, seniors losing the ability to drive may feel like they are becoming more dependent. How can you find a collaborative and non-confrontational way to address driving with aging parents?

Some key questions to ask are:

  • Is your aging parent driving at night?
  • Is he/she experiencing slower reaction times?
  • Is he/she easily fatigued?
  • Are medications changing his/her behaviour?
  • Is he/she putting himself or others at risk on the road?
  • Can he/she adapt to winter driving conditions in Calgary or Airdrie, Alberta?

What are some things that you can do to help address driving and transitioning with your senior loved ones?

  • Accompany your parent on a visit to their physician. Do not hesitate to advocate for your parent and share any concerns you may have with the doctor.
  • Some older drivers self-adjust by avoiding busy roads or no longer driving at night. Local insurance companies or organizations such as CAA offer retraining and adaptive safety courses. Stay informed about upcoming programs and share them with your loved one.
  • Help your aging parent consider other transportation methods by researching and presenting options available in the community.
  • Provide a practical plan to help assist in driving ‘retirement’. Use family and friends to provide a network of support to help meet their driving needs

Always be sensitive to your parent’s sense of dignity and independence when approaching the subject of senior driving safety. Reach out to professionals and family to help make the transition easy and safe for everyone.

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