As your parents get on in years, you will have to start conversations that might make you feel uncomfortable. One of the biggest struggles people face when caring for senior parents is the transition from child to a caretaker. Your parents may even resist your suggestions despite the fact you only want them to be safe. It can be hard to accept one’s own limitations as they get older, which is why having the conversation early and in a positive way is important not only for your relationship but also your parents’ long-term happiness.
Why You Need To
Although many senior citizens can drive well into their 90s, many people suffer from memory loss, slower reflexes, and reduced mobility as they age. If you notice that one or both of your parents can no longer drive safely, then it’s important to bring up the conversation as early as possible. This is even more important if your family members are over 65. You need to keep in mind that if your aging parent can no longer drive safely that they are putting other drivers on the road at risk of injury or even death. Though this may be a tough thing for your parent to realize, it’s important to help them to understand it so that you can help prevent accidents that could result from your parent’s physical or mental impairment.
How to Do It
Although it won’t be an easy conversation, you should sit down with your parents and tell them how you feel. Speak from the heart, and make sure that you focus on their safety and maintaining their freedom, not restricting it. You will have to be firm. A good opener is, “Mom/Dad, it might be hard to hear this, but we need to talk about your driving.” You can let them know why you are concerned and assure them that you want to help them maintain as much freedom as possible. Try to stay calm and be understanding if they get upset or even angry; the conversation might make them feel embarrassed or sad about the things they lose as they get older. You want to keep the conversation as positive as possible and already have alternative methods of transportation planned.
Tips for a Positive Conversation
There are a few ways you can help keep the conversation on the right track. First, make sure that you treat your parent as an equal. Although you may be their primary caretaker, they are still an adult who deserves a say in their life. While certain things may no longer be safe for them to do alone, you can still allow them to speak openly and express their feelings. If your elderly parent won’t stop driving, try to show them the risks of staying on the road. The physical, mental and emotional repercussions of a car accident are devastating, and they might even be putting their own family members or grandchildren at risk if they drive with passengers.
Aging gracefully is not always easy, but it can be done with the right support and resources. Stand by your parents, act in their best interest and find ways to help them accept and adapt to the changes that come with getting older.