Share Page  

Are you worried that a senior loved one should no longer drive an automobile? Understandably, you may be hesitant to bring up the topic. For the elder, giving up the keys represents a loss of independence and the end of a chapter in their life. It is not an easy decision, so expect some resistance or even an argument. For anyone facing this choice, here are some tools to help you.

Be Candid

The most effective method is to have a candid talk with your loved one, seeking to gain her or his voluntary agreement. State the reasons why you feel they should no longer drive, giving specific examples when you can: side effects of medication, recent fender benders, impaired vision, threatening health conditions or physical limitations.

Offer Alternatives

Before you approach the person, research some solutions regarding alternate means of transportation. For example, if the person lives in a Brookdale Senior Residence, transportation services are available. Other options include family members, specialized transit minibuses and volunteer chauffeurs. Check with your Area Agency on Aging for the types of transportation that are available in your area.

A driver’s license can be exchanged for an identification card at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Talk to the Doctor

Medical doctors are now urged by the American Medical Association (AMA) to offer counsel to caregivers and elderly patients regarding medical and health conditions, side effects of medications and other concerns. Ask the doctor to talk to your loved one directly, and even ask for and accept the car keys. Seniors often readily accept recommendations by their physicians.

The optometrist/ophthalmologist: As the best possible vision is vital to safe driving, the appropriate eye specialist can conduct a similar meeting with Mom or Dad, also asking for the keys. The ophthalmologist would be acting according to the AMA recommendation.

Alternatively, the physician may agree to write a medical status report which you can present to your state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Call a Meeting

Hold an intervention with family members and concerned friends to try to convince the driver to voluntarily stop driving.

Contact the DMV

The State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) deals with the issue of elderly driving daily. You can get meets with department representatives, present background and health information in an organized form, and then requests that your loved one receive a request for new vision examinations, tests on paper, and even an examination drive with an inspector. Any action or decision is determined by the inspectors. Such notice can arrive prior to the renewal date on the driver’s license.

There are no national standards or mandates for licensing drivers. Every state has its own program and standards.

Warn the Police

If your loved one refuses to give up the keys, and he/she represents an imminent danger to public safety, you might want to thinking about contacting the police, and giving your loved one’s name and license plate number. To seek counsel from the police may trigger the creation of an official report, even if there is no follow through. That document, though, is a record that can be accessed and used if and when there is an accident or driving violation.

If there is an accident or violation in the future, the police have their established processes for covering, investigating and even making charges that could cause the Department of Motor Vehicles to require re-testing and even cancellation of a driver’s license.

Take the Keys

If all else fails and you feel the situation is too dangerous, take the keys and remove the car.

Brookdale Senior Living has transportation services available for its residents, so they can safely and comfortably get around without needing a car of their own. Find a Brookdale residence near you.

Back to Senior Living Articles