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Family & Caregivers

Overview

Hands exchanging car keysThis page provides useful tips and information on how to help an older person deal with the issue of driving, and ensure that they can drive for as long as it is safe to do so. It provides information about ways to start the conversation and tips on observing someone’s driving behavior. 
 
Families, partners, and friends play a large role in keeping older family members safe on the road. The difficulty is often getting up the courage to start the conversation in the first place. Some of the reasons people do not talk about the issue of driving, particularly stopping driving, include:
  • Apprehension about the person's response
  • Fear of seeming disrespectful
  • Inability because of work or home demands to fulfill the older person's transportation needs
  • Fear of isolating the older person if they are the only one in the household
  • Concern that the older driver may not want to burden others for rides
Do not postpone the discussion until a crisis has occurred. That is a poor time for developing a transportation plan.

How to Talk About Driving Concerns
Talking with someone about the need to stop driving can be challenging but has been shown to be effective. In a survey conducted by the Hartford/MIT AgeLab of 7,200 adults aged 50 and above, they found that more than half of the participants followed the suggestions made in conversations with friends and family about driving.

Friends and family members can be better prepared for the discussion with the following:

The Oregon DMV provides a brochure, “Retiring from Driving: When Someone You Know Should Give Up Driving,” which includes tips for families and caregivers.
 
The Older Driver Safety Conversations Web site, sponsored by the Hartford Insurance Company, provides information to help families address sensitive subjects, such as driving, and fostering meaningful conversations with older drivers. Suggestions are given on how to prepare for a conversation, what to do when having the conversation and what to do after the conversation is finished. 
 
Driving Decisions in Later Life, a publication of the Pacific Northwest Extension, provides information to caregivers and family members on how to talk to a family member about stopping driving and what to do if they insist on continuing to drive.

Reporting an Unsafe Driver
Family members, friends, law enforcement, social service providers and others may voluntarily report an unsafe driver under DMV's Medically At-Risk Driver Program. The report may be based on a person's medical condition or observed driving behaviors.

Emergency Contact Information
AmbulanceThe Next of Kin Registry (NOKR) is a FREE tool that stores emergency contacts, next of kin, and vital medical information critical to emergency response agencies during a medical emergency or national disaster. The information is secure and can only be accessed by local, state, and sometimes federal agencies working in an official capacity, attempting to locate a next of kin or emergency contact point. Once you register, you receive a decal to place on your identification.

Related Information
Additional information that may be relevant includes:
  • DMV provides several forms, brochures and training materials for the At-Risk Driver Program that may be useful. 
  • The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s How To Help An Older Driver brochure provides information to help seniors or their family members learn how to give up the keys and still remain active and mobile.
  • The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has valuable information for caregivers and families. For example, the association’s Keeping the Older Driver Safe brochure provides information on how occupational therapists can help keep an older driver safe.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s How to Understand & Influence Older Drivers report provides information on helping older drivers make informed decisions about their driving behavior and provides suggestions on how to begin a conversation with an older driver.