As The Wesley Communities approach 50 years of excellent service, our CEO Peg Carmany offers “Peg’s Perspective” on a variety of topics affecting seniors and their adult children as they plan and choose to age well – 50 tips to celebrate 50 years!
If this title caught your eye, you may very well be on the horns of dilemma. You might be an adult son or daughter, a spouse, or a good friend from church or the neighborhood, and you’re dealing with a very tricky problem – your loved one probably shouldn’t be driving anymore. There have been a few too many “Mr. McGoo” moments, perhaps a damaged garage door or fender with no explanation? Or worse? An accident where someone has been injured? The latter is actually easier to deal with than the former, I’ve found.
You are probably receiving a ton of denial from your loved one, and you are also experiencing a real dilemma: if I insist that Mom (or Dad) no longer drive, how on earth will they . . . (fill in the blank). If they live out of town, the problem is even harder.And, you may be dealing with more than a little anger about the whole situation.
At The Wesley Communities, we see this problem all too frequently, and we’re happy to offer some advice. No one wants to be the bad guy, right? But if you are seeing mailboxes going down and dents in the fender, you already know what the right answer is. So, how to implement?
There are several ways to approach this situation. The best way is to sit down and say, “I’ve noticed some things and I’m really concerned about your ability to drive safely any longer.” In most situations, it won’t be as bad as you think it might be. Your mom/dad/spouse/friend didn’t get to this stage in life without a fairly healthy dose of common sense. What you’re saying may even be a relief to them.
But in the cases where you are met with anger and denial. . . again, try to approach the situation reasonably. It’s not just their life that’s at stake, they could also injure someone else. Their eyesight and reflex time is very likely not what it should be in order to drive.
Still no luck? Be prepared to have practical solutions to their objections. There are taxis, Ubers, Lyfts, community center buses, and paid helpers. In many cases, a college student home for the summer would be delighted to have flexible hours and some extra cash.
And then here’s the last resort, and it’s pretty effective. If you know someone is getting behind the wheel of a car and they can’t see or hear well, and there is some fairly objective evidence of that, when you know they’re out and about, see if your local law enforcement team can help. They oftentimes are very willing to observe, and if a traffic violation is made, they will most likely pull the individual over. And then? Almost inevitably, a revocation of license (they can’t pass the driving test) will result.
These are hard situations to deal with, but just remember, they most likely need (and probably want) your help. You’re doing the right thing, keep after it.
At The Wesley Communities, we are welcoming communities of kindness and grace where residents and staff thrive.Please visit our website at www.thewesleycommunities.org for more information.