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Key Conversations Checklist

Key Conversations Checklist:

How To Have ‘The Talk’ About When to Stop Driving

Many caregivers and family members wrestle with when and how to have a conversation with an aging parent or loved one about whether it’s safe for them to continue operating a car. We've created a checklist to help prepare you for the conversation.

1. Start now.

If you’re wondering whether it’s time to talk to an aging parent or loved one, it most likely is. It’s better to plant seeds early and think long term. If someone feels blindsided, he or she is less likely to be receptive to the conversation. At the same time, keep an eye out for signs that someone’s driving is no longer safe. These include dents on the car, traffic tickets, or witnessing risky behavior firsthand. Having specific examples can be a good way to begin the conversation. 

2. Plan alternative transportation.

There are real risks to limiting transportation options for seniors. Ask your loved one: What do you need to feel independent and connected, if you are not driving? While fully self-driving cars hold potential to be a safe mobility solution, there are many alternatives to consider: public transportation, ride-hailing services, friends, family and caregivers. Map out what travel is required of a well-rounded, healthy life and brainstorm ways to meet those needs.

3. Listen to their concerns.

The worst thing you can do in these conversations is to be demeaning or overly critical. While it may seem obvious to you that someone shouldn’t be driving—and while your concern may come from a good place—it’s a drastic change for the person on the receiving end. Be empathetic. Don’t lecture. 

4. Suggest a driving course or resource.

Sometimes, aging seniors have trouble admitting to themselves that they are no longer able to safely drive. AAA’s website offers recommendations on courses or resources available to seniors by location.

5. Be realistic.

You don’t want to have a conversation because an accident has already happened. Sometimes, people feel like bad things cannot happen to them—until they do. The goal of this conversation is to prevent an accident. Be realistic, to yourself and your loved one, about the risks of someone operating a car.

Partnered with Foundation for Senior Living