Stage 1 - Rethinking the Driving Conversations with Aging Parents

Ideally, you begin the Driving Conversations long before you ever need them. Your parents are decent drivers, in reasonably good health, and things are going well. Now is the time to start. Why? Precisely because it’s not needed.

Most people wait until their parent’s driving has deteriorated to the point that they are no longer safe and a danger to themselves or others. Then, the conversation feels sudden, confrontational, and imposed upon the parent from outside. Rather than relinquish their freedom mom or dad will, by necessity, fight to keep their independence. This strain can slide into a painful conflict that could last for months. That’s why you want to start the Driving Conversations now.

Form a Partnership

Rather than set yourself up as the enemy, start talking now and reposition the driving conversations as a partnership. Let your mother or father know that you value their independence, their judgment, and their concern for safety and well-being for themselves and others.

For now, you’d like to invite them to look down the road into the future, and think through what happens when or if they need to retire from driving. You’d like for them to imagine and then describe how they’d like that process to go.

Questions You Need to Ask Your Parents at This Stage

  • How will you know when it will be time to retire from driving? (not based on age, but functional abilities)

  • How should we plan for the stages along the way? (What might be some stages of decline of function that they would want to watch for?)

  • Would you be open to using some objective assessments, both self-assessments and professional, to help you stay safe?

  • Who else should be involved in these conversations?

  • If you don't notice in time, who should be the one to finally tell you it’s time to retire from driving?

  • How would you like that conversation to happen?
  • If you eventually retire from driving, can we agree that our goal will be to work out a plan so that you can maintain your independence as much as possible?

  • Where To Get Additional Information

    Links to other helpful resources. Each link will open into a new window.

    A Driving Self-Assessment This Self-Assessment, from, will give your mother or father the basic idea of what should be noticed as their driving abilities change over time. Having them look at this will help to create a mutual basis for the driving conversations over time.

    How Age Affects Driving and The Driving Conversations This is an interactive graphic produced by USA Today. It will show both you and your parents what physical changes happen with age that can affect their ability to drive safely. It also shows the affects of a variety of medications and their negative impact on safe driving. You can use it to get an overview of some of the topics for future Driving Conversations.

    To Understand the 5 Stages of The Driving Conversation, check the links to the pages below:

    Return to Senior Drivers Overview Page

    Click Here to Read Stage 2 - The First Signs of Change
    What to look for as early signs of change in driving habits. Self-assessment tools offered. Providing support to preserve maximum freedom.

    Click Here to Read Stage 3 - The Warning Signs
    Learn the signals that there are more serious concerns. What professional medical assessments could be suggested. Referrals to Driving Rehabilitation Specialists and adaptive devices for the car are discussed.

    Click Here to Read Stage 4 - When It's Time to Retire From Driving
    Critical questions to know when it's time to hang up the keys. Methods to ease the transition are discussed. Alternative approaches if driving cessation will not be voluntary.

    Click Here to Read Stage 5 - Preserving Independence After Driving
    Plan ahead to maintain their freedom. Creative transportation alternatives to driving.

    Return to Talk Early Talk Often With Aging Parents Home Page

    Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

    Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

    1. Click on the HTML link code below.
    2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.