Talking to Your Parents about Giving up Their Drivers’ Licenses

43763154_mTalking to aging parents about giving up their driver’s licenses is uncomfortable at best, and can easily become confrontational in some families. No one wants to give up their independence, and no child wants to see their parents get to the point that they can no longer safely drive. But, if you wait too long and one of your parents get into an accident that leaves your parent or someone else seriously injured or dead, you will wish you had talked to them sooner. Depending on the circumstances, your parents may just need to make some adjustments and possibly drive on a more limited basis.


Medications can affect your vision, judgement, reflexes and behavior. As we age we tend to take more medications, and may be seeing several prescribing doctors who are not aware of or not paying attention to the combination of drugs prescribed to one person by different doctors.

Find out if your parent’s medications could be the problem, especially if you notice a change after a new medication is started or the dosage is increased. Your parent may be able to take alternative medications, lower doses, or change the times of day that they take the medications that cause the problem.

Vision Problems

Prescriptions for corrective lenses change over time, and people who have always had perfect vision can develop the need for glasses when they get older. Your parent may simply need new glasses to drive safely, or she may need cataract surgery. Find out when she had her last eye exam and what the doctor advised.

People 60 and older should have their eyes checked at least once a year. There are many reasons why an aging parent may have put off having an eye exam:

  • Frugality
  • Feels it is unnecessary
  • Hates getting eye exams, especially getting her eyes dilated
  • Afraid the eye doctor will say her vision is too poor for driving and may even report them to the DMV

Making Driving Easier

Arthritis and other afflictions that come with age can make driving more physically challenging. For instance, stiffness and pain can make it difficult or impossible to turn your head fully or quickly, no matter how sharp your mind is.

Fortunately, there are solutions that can minimize these obstacles to safe and comfortable driving. Start with the basics:

  • Automatic transmission
  • Power steering
  • Power brakes

From there, look into aids that can make driving easier for your parent, such as special mirrors, backup cameras, pedal extensions, and cushions that can give your parent more height.

To determine if it is time to talk to your parents about giving up their drivers’ licenses, and how to prepare for the talk, download and print our handy checklist.

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