As we age, so do our vision, reaction time and fine motor skills. All these things are involved in operating a vehicle. As drivers on the road, it’s not only our own safety but also that of other drivers and passengers, that’s our responsibility.

If you have an elderly parent whose ability to drive is starting to make you worry, you’re not alone—it’s a conversation many adult children must eventually face.


And it can be difficult, as seniors have a lifetime of driving experience behind them and value the independence offered by driving a car.

Still, when safety is at stake, it’s important to know how to address this topic with your parent or elderly loved one.

Five signs it may be time to hand over the keys

One of the first things you can do is ride along and observe your parent behind the wheel. Warning signs their driving abilities are declining to include the following:

  1. Becoming easily distracted or agitated behind the wheel.
  2. Frequent close calls or near-collisions.
  3. Forgetting directions and getting lost in familiar surroundings.
  4. Difficulty judging gaps in traffic or following traffic signs.
  5. Decreased reaction time for braking, or confusing the brake with the gas pedal.

How to talk to someone that needs to stop driving

Be gentle, but honest 

Your decision is one made out of love and concern. Simply tell your parent you want them to be happy, but also safe.

Involve other family members, if possible

You don’t want your parent to feel you’re “ganging up,” but the concern of multiple people can help you illustrate your point.


Explain your concern

If you’ve observed questionable driving, it may help to bring up what you saw. Simply state you’re afraid for the safety of your parent, as well as others on the road.

Request a driving test

This can include an eye exam and ride-along driving check-up. To learn more, contact your local office of motor vehicles. The advice of a professional may help your parent understand what needs to happen next.

Offer help to maintain independence

A loss of independence can be a devastating blow to an active senior. However, elder care services in your area can provide transportation to help your parent get out and about, and complete all desired errands.

Be patient, but persistent

You may not succeed in the first conversation. But don’t give up. It’s important your loved one understands your concern and hands over the keys.

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To learn more about maintaining your loved one’s well-being, contact Papa today for a free trial!

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