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GIVE IT UP, GRANDPA: Trying to convince a senior driver to give up driving needs careful planning and sensitivity before having that difficult conversation. Image: SHUTTERSTOCK

Telling somebody he/she is too old to drive calls for a difficult conversation… Here’s how to tell the elderly how to give up their ticket to freedom. In a nice way...

LONDON, England - Getting one’s driving licence is one of the most independent things anybody can do but there comes a time when that ticket to ride has to be given up.

It applies just as much in South Africa as it does in Europe, so read on...

But how do you tell a loved one they’re too old to drive?  A British road-safety website, stillsafetodrive.org.uk, urges relatives to do some research before having that sensitive conversation with an elderly driver.

Watch the helpful videos

The site contains a suite of videos that cover topics connected with ageing, staying safe and adapting to changes in mobility.
A UK driving behaviour professor, Andrew Parkes, warned in a video interview on the site that elderly drivers could feel quite defensive about their driving and any criticism of it.

Parkes said in a video interview that forms part of the Still Safe To Drive resource: “I know this from my own experience, as I was recently driven by my father for the first time in 10 years. I noticed how his style of driving had changed; he was driving much faster, much more assertively, than he had before.

“I reacted by expressing my surprise and then trying to make a joke out it, which probably made my father feel even more defensive about his driving.”

Parkes said that talking to an elderly relative about driving – especially if the goal is to get that person to hang up the car keys – needs to be part of a properly planned approach that’s sensitive and constructive.

“With the benefit of hindsight I should not have said anything to my father immediately,” he adds. “It would have been much more helpful to come back to the subject when I had lined up some sensible ideas rather than simply expressing surprise and concern about his driving style.

“Taking time to think about just what journeys your elderly relative needs to make can assist in reducing the overall negative impact of age and the restrictions on mobility that can go with it. You’re showing care and compassion, which can only help an elderly person make a smoother transition to a less mobile lifestyle.”

Tips for difficult driving conversations:

• Put yourself in an older person’s shoes before you have a discussion that focuses on giving up driving. The best way to do this is by experiencing life without the car yourself. This will help you appreciate both the drawbacks and the advantages.

• Don't expect to deal with everything in one conversation where you may be dropping a bombshell.

• The best approach is to engage your elderly relative in a conversation on the subject before you have specific safety concerns.

• Broaching the issue of safety and 'giving up' a year or more early might mean you’re spared the need to confront your relative – and you can work together over a period of time to make a few small adjustments in driving style, vehicle and journey type.

• Explore the practical options your relative will have to remain as mobile as possible.

• If you’re going to talk about using the bus, then research timetables. If you're suggesting taxis or other modes of public transport check out fares and routes.

• Don’t focus solely on the necessary journeys. Yes, elderly relatives may well need lifts to the surgery and the shops, but they are likely to miss the freedom of a car for outings and social visits, so have a plan to assist them in maintaining this important aspect of mobility, even if it’s not in their own car.

• Check out some of the options for volunteer services from local organisations. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to act as full-time chauffeur for an elderly relative but there are often local schemes that can assist with lifts on a regular or occasional basis.

Visit the website for more helpful videos.
Read more on:    england  |  london  |  driving  |  ageing

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