BestSelf

Source: 
Figure Magazine
Published: 
05/01/2008

My father, who is approaching 80, has been in two car accidents in three months. Although he hasn’t injured himself or anyone else, I don’t think he should be allowed to drive anymore. And I don’t know how to address this with him.

You face a tough, tricky situation. “It involves a role reversal,” says Linda Saisselin, a New York City-based psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker. “Your father was an authority figure, and now it can seem to him that you are telling him what to do.”

Saisselin suggests you sit down with your dad over coffee or tea. (Don’t involve siblings, spouses or friends so as not to overwhelm or humiliate your father.) “Tell Dad you love him and you are afraid he will hurt himself or someone else,” Saisselin says. “This is potentially a big loss for your father so encourage him to share his feelings and offer him support. Appeal to his ethical sense by telling him that you know he’d never want to hurt another person.”

AARP covers this topic extensively on its website, aarp.org. (Search for “driver safety.”) There, you’ll find warning signs that it’s time to limit or stop driving, tips for helping parents curtail their driving and other resources.

Marion Somers, Ph.D., a geriatric care manager based in Brooklyn, New York, faced this situation with her own father and found this solution: “We sold his car and started a transportation fund to help him maintain his independence. I set up a system with the local taxi service to drive my father where he wanted to go and paid the bill from his fund.”

For other transportation options, contact your state’s department of aging or elder affairs. Or look into other public or private programs such as Accessoride in New York City and WeDriveU (wedriveu.com), located in 350 cities. Places of worship or senior clubs also may help.

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