Teaching a teenage driver is undoubtedly stressful, but it’s not the only stress you’ll experience when it comes to getting behind the wheel. As our parents age, we get to worry about them on the road too.
Driving allows seniors to remain autonomous, so any possibility of that independence being taken away can cause prickly feelings from all parties involved.
It doesn’t have to be that way! There are plenty of ways to keep mom and dad safe behind the wheel! Here are just a few.
Help Them Brush up Their Knowledge of the Road
Think it’s your teen who needs to learn the rules of the road? Think again! As we age, we tend to forget some rules, like what to do when stopping at a set of train tracks, or what color combinations are used on signage when we’re approaching a hazard.
It wouldn’t hurt to brush up on your knowledge of the rules of the road with an online practice test, and it definitely wouldn’t hurt to sit down with mom and dad. If you do it with them, they’re more likely to give it a try!
The more they know about the rules of the road, the safer they’ll be behind the wheel, and the more comfortable you’ll feel allowing them to stay there.
Get Them the Right Driving Aids
Aging comes with many challenges. Just because one or both of your parents are battling a few medical issues doesn’t mean they can’t safely operate a vehicle.
There are many great aids out there that will make driving a lot easier, and safer, for your parents! A few driving aids include:
- Mirror adapters are great for seniors with arthritis who find it hard to crane their necks.
- Backup cameras can prevent mom and dad from craning their necks to back up altogether.
- Pedal extenders make reaching the pedals easier, but they can also reduce the likelihood of a foot slipping from the pedal.
- Seat belt pulls can make wearing a seatbelt more comfortable, ensuring your parents wear it at all times.
- Swivel seat cushions can reduce the likelihood of falling getting into or out of the car.
Brainstorm Driving Rules That Will Keep Them Safe
Just because your parents know the rules of the road doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have their own rules. Invite them to participate in a conversation about how they can make driving even safer.
Discussing driving aids is a good place to start, but discussing times they should and shouldn’t be on the road is another good topic of conversation. They may easily agree to avoid the road during rush hour. Tech-savvy seniors may enjoy using Google Maps to determine when they should and shouldn’t be on the road.
Hire a Driving Rehabilitation Specialist
Mom or dad not listening to you? It might be time for a little help. That’s where a driver rehabilitation specialist or an occupational therapist comes in.
A professional has a way of getting through to seniors when their children can’t. They can highlight potential issues and come up with solutions, all without reacting emotionally, which is common when dealing with driving issues is left up to the family.
They can become your parents’ biggest advocates, helping them find ways to modify their vehicle to make it easier to drive, and planning transportation options for the future that will put your parents’ minds at ease.
Know When It’s Time to Take the Keys Away
It’s never easy to figure out when it’s time to take the keys away from mom or dad. Every situation is unique, but there are a few red flags you can look out for.
If mom or dad has been in an accident that could have easily been prevented, it might be time to take them off the road. Some conditions, like Alzheimer’s, are a sure sign that it’s time to hand over the keys.
There are more options than ever before for people without a vehicle. Sitting down with mom or dad and discussing rideshare programs and services, like Lyft and Uber, can show your parents that not being able to drive doesn’t mean they’ll suddenly become isolated from the activities they love.
It’s normal to be nervous if you have an elderly mom or dad who still spends time behind the wheel. Approach them with compassion and use the topics on this list to partner with your parents and help them become the safest drivers they can be for as long as possible.