As our parents age their driving skills can be rather questionable. But if there are also signs of dementia, it becomes dangerous. Them getting lost would be the least of your worries.
Even very early stages of dementia can be a hazard to someone driving. But getting them to stop may not be easy. It will require tact, patience, and kindness.
Driving With Dementia- Is It Time To Stop?
There are many people living with dementia who are still driving. Whether they are on their own or they have yet to be diagnosed, it is dangerous. But how do you get them to stop?
Driving with dementia will greatly increase their risk of an accident. They could hurt themselves or others. There is also a very real risk of them getting disoriented and lost.
People have been known to lose the car, forget where they parked, or tried to get in the wrong car. There are simply too many things that can go wrong if they are allowed to continue driving.
If you have tried to have a conversation before, or are thinking about doing so, it likely won’t be easy. They will argue that they are fine, they have been driving the same route for many years, and so on.
It’s Time to Stop Driving
Before you have the conversation with your parents, think about how they will feel. Driving represents freedom to them and ending that will be a big blow. They will likely become very angry but be patient and kind.
You should consider having another family member with you. Don’t let them feel like everyone is ganging up on them. But coming from a few loved ones might help convince them.
You could also enlist the help of some of their friends. Perhaps people their own age who have given up driving. They may have some good points that you haven’t considered.
You could also get backing from a professional. The family doctor may be able to sound more serious and believable. They could mention that it is time to stop driving during a routine visit.
You could also have your family optometrist do some of the heavy lifting. If they were to state that their eyesight was too bad for them to continue driving, that might settle it.
Have alternatives ready. Make plans to have backup rides before you start. Make arrangements with family or neighbors who would be happy to drive them places. That way, they also have supervision.
You could also add a car app to their phone. Show them how to use it and they may find that method much more enjoyable. Push a button and the car arrives. It might be better than them trying to call a cab.
Ordering groceries, prescriptions, and other items online for delivery is also a good idea. They can order everything they need and have it all delivered for them. This might let them still feel like they are in control.
Make sure you have a long list of positive things to say about each method you suggest. No more parking, no more backed-up traffic, no more expensive car insurance or gas prices.
Be patient and reasonable. Listen to what they have to say. You want them to come to terms with the risk of them driving. You want them to hand over the keys willingly.
Perhaps you can suggest they sell the car and get something that they really want with the money. Maybe a winter vacation or a new big-screen television. This might be enough of an incentive.
Be patient and don’t get upset when they do. Chances are they will get upset and angry. Just stay calm and try to soothe them. Let them know you understand how they feel but that it is just too risky to let them drive.
Make it seem like you are just having the chat and that you haven’t already made the decision for them. If they have dementia, even in their early stages, it may be very difficult for them to understand.
Taking the Car Keys When It’s Time To Stop Driving
Physically removing their keys should be a last resort, but one that you may have to do. Don’t take them from them in front of them. You could replace the keys on their ring with some other keys. They may just give up when they are unable to even open the car door.
You could offer to hold the keys until things change. Make it a ‘wait and see’ situation and that might be enough. If the car is out of sight, they may even soon forget all about it.
If they have already lost their license then you need to be more aggressive about it. Take the keys when they are not around to see it happening.
We Are Here To Help
At Sycamore Creek Ranch Memory Care we are here to help. We want families to make the best decision for their situation.
Furthermore, the staff at Sycamore Creek Ranch is proactive. That means we are not waiting for a problem to arise. Instead, we are actively engaged with each and every resident. And with only 16 residents we can do that! Come for a tour at Sycamore Creek Ranch! See how we can help!