Let’s Talk about DRIVING

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​​​It’s hard to talk about driving with your parents

It’s hard to talk about driving with the ones you love. For many people – not only seniors –  that licence is a symbol of independence, control, freedom, or confidence. It means not having to rely on anyone else; it means not feeling like a burden.

It’s hard to talk about driving with your parentsRecently, Home Instead Senior Care surveyed a group of seniors who are 70 years or older, have a valid driver’s licence, and live in North America. They found that 90% of seniors are depending on their car for independence – which is not shocking at all! Those that drive know how convenient it is to be able to get yourself where you need to go, without the help of anyone else.
One third of those surveyed are using their car 3 – 5 times a week and more than half of those people are driving 40 kilometers or more.
Is your mom or dad still behind the wheel? Are you thinking it might not be the best idea? You are definitely not alone. Thankfully, Home Instead has put together some great resources just for you.

Caregiverstress.com has also put together some light-hearted, yet educational, videos that depict different senior drivers. Watch them here and see which one you think best describes your loved one. You can then visit the Safe Driving Planner to read the corresponding article, which has been organized by the headings you’ll see above the videos. The planner includes topics like, signs of changing driving abilities, conversation starters, ways to plan ahead, and much more – for each type of senior driver.

Father & Son: “Safely Driving” - Is your senior showing no obvious warning signs?

Mother & Son: “Safely Driving with Limitations” - Is your senior limiting her/himself, for example, only driving during the day?

Father & Daughter: “Unsafely Driving” - Is your senior showing multiply warning signs?

Mother & Daughter: “No Longer Driving” - Is your senior showing risks of isolation?

This is a very sensitive subject. You’re probably wondering, “How can I talk to my Mom about this,” or you might be thinking, “It’s time for Dad to stop driving.”

​​​Home Instead Senior Care, was featured on Hallmark’s channel

Amy Huddleston (centre), owner of the Home Instead Senior Care in Ohio, was featured on Hallmark’s channel, Home & Family, and stated that roughly 95% of families are not having this important conversation with their parents. They know that it can lead to their mom or dad feeling frustration, helplessness, or even depression. Many emotions can come flooding in for both sides – guilt, pity, fear or anger – when it comes to asking them to hang up the keys.

               Below we have some pointers on how to approach the topic:

  1. Go for a ride with Mom or Dad
    Watch to see if their vision is getting worse – are they squinting or driving too close to the person ahead? Are their reaction times ok – are they going through yellow lights often? Do they have good mobility – are they able to turn their head and check their blind spot?
  2. Be Gentle
    No one likes to feel like they’re being attacked. Try to avoid negative and demeaning tones of voice. Remind them that you have their safety and the safety of others in mind. Speak to them with respect and comfort them.
  3. Ask Questions
    Ask them how they feel about driving. Are they scared? Ask them how things are going during the evening – can they see alright? Maybe they want to stop but they’re also afraid of what the family might think. Ask them when they’d be available for a conversation about driving. The survey we talked about earlier found that 31% would reconsider driving if a family member or friend said something about it.  
  4. Include them in decision making
    The study also showed that when they have an active role in decision making, the process runs much smoother. This is not an easy topic for either side – but that doesn’t mean it should be a one sided conversation. They might agree and think that, for example, night-driving is too unsafe. Taking things slow and creating a driving plan with the whole family will surly keep their dignity intact, and help retain their independence.

Please, visit LetsTalkAboutDriving.ca for more information regarding this topic. You can also go onto caregiverstress.com or caring.com for even more helpful resources. As always, your local Home Instead office is only a phone-call away, and we do offer transportation services if you are looking for extra help.
Do not hesitate to call us in the Mississauga area at 905.276.2273 or the Etobicoke area at 416.239.2200. You can also visit our websites by clicking here for Mississauga and here for Etobicoke.   

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