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Help Your Aging Loved Ones Cope Without Driving

One of the hardest – and likely scariest – parts of aging is that eventually we may not be able to drive any longer. Maybe it’s because of vision loss or an illness. Either way, it’s not just the fact that we can no longer bring ourselves to doctor appointments or to buy groceries, but it’s the loss of freedom. If a friend calls to ask if you want to go to the movies or dinner in an hour, then you’ll have to make plans to organize a ride. For many, giving up the keys to the car can even lead to complete dependence on others and a major decline in health.

Not only is this stressful for elderly individuals, but it can also be a source of depression and anxiety. There are easy ways to help your aging loved ones transition to living without driving, and also to help them plan ahead for what their life will be like without driving. This way they’ll not only be used to the idea, but they’ll be prepared and have plans.

Communicate clearly and honestly with your loved one. In this case, at first it could be best to listen rather than talk. He may just want to voice his frustration and irritation with his situation, and you just need to be an ear to listen.

Once you’ve heard him out, it’s important to have a discussion with your loved one about his car and what he may want to do with it. He may even want to keep it for a while, even if he’s not the one driving it. It’s best not to pressure him into selling the car right away, even if he can make some money.

Have a discussion with your loved one about scheduling rides and finding a new means of transport. Does he have a friend who he could carpool with and pay for gas, or is there a public transit system he’s comfortable using? Maybe he wants to try Uber, or just calling a taxi for convenience. He might even want to try walking if he’s in a metropolitan area. If he’s wheelchair bound, then he’s going to need to find someone who is able to offer that access. Offer your assistance, especially at the beginning; your presence can help him feel confident and sure of himself while he finds his way in this new phase of his life.

As our loved ones age, they can feel helpless and trapped by the loss of driving. The key is to help them transition to this new stage of living so that they still feel independent and that they can still live their lives the way they want, for as long as they possibly are able.

Source: “How to Help Older Adults When They Can No Longer Drive”, Connie Matthiesson, Caring.com Senior Editor, February 6, 2018