Despite having the best willingness to prepare and face the conversation, some elderly people may have a negative reaction.
Check the following advice to have a productive conversation:
- Do not become defensive. Listen carefully and let the elderly person express his/her feelings and worries.
- Answer with empathic and assertive phrases. Phrases like “I understand your worries”, “Let’s focus on what we can do to let you move in complete safety”, are adequate.
- Do not ask the elderly person to give you the car keys. The more pressure you make, the more you discredit or infantilize him/her, the less receptive he/she will be and the less you will be able to help.
- Be objective. Before making any diagnosis, encourage the senior driver to make a self-assessment test of his/her driving skills and/or to undergo an assessment made by professionals.
- Anticipate and agree an action plan on time. If you start the conversation about driving with safety before there is any alarm sign, the transition from being a driver to being a passenger will be more gradual. The adaptation can start with limitations imposed by the driver him/herself, such as not driving at night, and it may evolve towards the alternating use of other transport systems before letting the dependency grow.