Senior Living | Care Options | Guiding Families Since 2007


Seniors Driving“Dad Your Driving Scares Me”

If you ever wanted to choose your words wisely, it will be when you try to encourage a parent to give up the car keys. Just think about it. What if you no longer could jump in your car and go anywhere you wanted to go? My mind takes it even further. What if my parents, children or someone in my own household had a medical emergency and I couldn’t drive? I would feel completely helpless and incompetent!

I know all of us have sweet memories of when we first started to drive. There’s probably not a more fun-filled feeling that grabbing those car keys and seeing anyone or anything you want to. Driving is freedom. When you recognize the dangers of your parent’s declining driving skills just think carefully and choose the right approach. If it’s your dad you’re concerned about, talk to your mom first. Studies show that men take their wives’ opinions more seriously than they do their children’s. And remember, it’s not what you say, but how you say it, so do it with kindness, concern and lots of love!


What not to say

“Think about your age Dad. You’re just too old to continue driving.”

Oh, my. If you choose this approach, get ready for a big argument. Asking a man to give up his car is like asking most women to give up their make-up. It’s not going to go over well. Your dad will know a dozen friends who are older than him that still drive. He’ll be hurt and on the defense.

Better approach –

“Dad, now that you have to take a lot of medications, you need to consider finding another way to get around. Did you ask your doctor about how your prescriptions might affect your driving?”


“Have you had your eyes checked lately, Dad? It seems to me you’re not seeing as well as you used to. I worry about you being able to see when you drive.”


“Dad, your driving is awful!”

You might as well attack your dad’s manhood as use this line. Chances are your dad does need to give up driving but nearly all men pride themselves on their driving abilities.

Better Approach –

“Dad, Mom said you had a close call in the car last week. You’ve always been such a safe driver, but don’t you think it might be the time to give up driving before you have a bad accident?”

Or –

“Dad, the traffic around here has gotten a lot worse over the past few years. Maybe it would be safer for you and mom to catch a ride with me to the store and church. Did you know the bus now stops just down the street and will take you anywhere? It might be fun for you to try it. It will be a good back-up when I’m not available.”


If you’re concerned with your parent’s driving, consider tagging along with them the next time they go to the doctor. Ask your parent’s doctor if any of their medication may make driving harder. Also ask about cognitive factors. If your parent is having trouble with their memory or has been diagnosed with a dementia, have their doctor tell them it’s time to give up the keys.

And always give lots of hugs and “I love you’s” when this sensitive subject has to be approached. You can also remind them how much money they’ll save on gas, insurance and licensing!

If you’re successful in getting your parent to give up driving, don’t leave them high and dry. Let neighbors, family and friends know that your parent might need a ride on occasion. Also look into what public transportation is available in their area. Our small town has Dial-a-Ride and bus service. Chances are that your parents community does too. 


About The Author: Karen Everett Watson is a Gerontologist and has over 10 years experience as a Journalist. Karen has spent 4 years in the senior community interviewing retirement community residents and wrtites articles for, a comprehensive Assisted Living online directory, trusted by seniors and families. also provides free placement services to help Seniors and their families find assisted living based on the senior’s care needs, family’s budget and location.


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