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Having the 'Driving' Conversation With Older Clients, or Their Parents

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Over the past few months, I have noticed many articles in newpapers, magazines and trade publications addressing the question of  when the appropriate time is to "take away the keys" from parents, spouses or a friend. Your clients may be facing these questions, for themselves or their parents or other family members.

Whether you notice dents in the car that were not there previously or changes in driving patterns (not wanting to drive at night), these and other developments may be the cues that the time has come for this difficult discussion. Any discussion about changes, especially about driving cessation, can be quite uncomfortable for both parties involved for many reasons (see my previous blog posting on ‘Starting the Conversation.’). It means a loss of freedom and independence for the individual affected.  It is also a "role reversal" for many of us or our clients who have elderly parents or spouses with whom we need to have the conversation.

One of the organizations of which I am a member, the American Society on Aging, or ASA, recently published a wonderful article about this very topic called The Driving Transitions Education Program.  This program was developed through funding provided by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  There is an ASA online program which offers tips and tools to provide individuals with tips on how to facilitate the conversation. There are four sections of the program which include how to prepare for and begin the conversation, tools and scripts to use for the discussion, practical exercises and research sources to those who find themselves in the dilemma of "having the conversation".

In addition to the ASA website, another very useful site, CarFit, has helpful materials on this topic. You can also visit the NHTSA site, and search the site using the keywords "older drivers."

I hope these sources will help those who "need to have the conversation."