Driving in older age- How do I talk to my parents?

The desire of driving a car by yourself doesn’t go away with old age. It is an important sign of being autonomic and independent. To refrain from driving would mean a great sacrifice regarding independency especially for older people and the admission: I am old for real. And who would like to admit that?

But the question is if someone still adequately sees, hears, reacts and is agile enough to be save while handling a car.

Especially regarding the topic of driving a lot of people are not rational enough and only few say “I can’t do that anymore” of their own accord.

These are warning signs:

  • noticeably slow driving
  • disorientation at intersections
  • indecisive behavior
  • getting lost on familiar routes
  • disregarding traffic signs

The right moment to talk about this topic is when you don’t feel safe anymore as a co-driver. If you are unsure, just ask yourself: Would I let my child drive with him/her? If you would answer this question with NO, there is no more time to waste to talk about it.

It is most certainly no topic for the larger family group, but something that should be discussed in private. Because it can be very hurtful if your child or grandchild tells you that you seem unfit to do something. However, it could be helpful to involve a neutral person like for example the general practitioner.

In Germany, the driver’s license is valid for life. Only if something happens, the government can order to validate if someone is unfit to drive. Therefore, we can only try to reason with our parents.

Here are six tips, how you could act:

  1. Appeal to reason

“I worry that something will happen to you” or “What if you run into a child?”

  1. Involve the general practitioner

Sometimes people listen to an outside person rather than to their own children – from experience, doctors outweigh the children, even among older people.

  1. Take a trial lesson/ Do a driving check

Instruct the driving instructor beforehand. He could officially announce that the driver is unfit to drive and that would help accepting the fact.
Or you could do a driving check with the ADAC/TÜV or DEKRA.

  1. Make the car unroadworthy

Empty batteries, marten bite – just loosen a cable – and the car won’t start. Instruct the garage on a higher estimate of costs – sometimes that helps.

  1. White lie

Friends or acquaintances urgently need the car for a little while – try to reason with the willingness to help.

  1. Take away or hide the keys

With this option, conflicts are inevitable, so it is no long-term solution.

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