Last week I wrote about signs that it’s time to reevaluate driving .  This week I am giving tools to communicate in a caring and honest way.

Here are some of my recommendations:

1. If there is a medical condition causing the problems, place the focus on the condition.  It makes it less personal.  It truly is the affect of the medical condition that causes limitations with driving.  Be honest and point out specific examples of how you have witnessed the medical condition causing problems in your loved one’s daily routine.

2. Relate how your concerns with the medical condition relate to skills needed for driving.  An example: “Dad, you know how you have had several falls in the past year?  You have been falling because you do not have good sensation in your feet anymore.  That is a common side affect from advanced diabetes.  I am concerned that you use your right foot to drive and it is your right foot that you have poor sensation.”

Or, “Mom, I have noticed that you have trouble paying attention when I come visit.  You have been asking me the same questions over and over.  Each time I answered your question and showed you how to do it.  I even wrote it down for you.  I am concerned that you are not able to pay attention like you used to.  It is important for you to pay attention when you are driving, especially in parking lots, near schools and in traffic.”

3. Try to stay positive about the concerns and give your loved one the benefit of the doubt.   Be a passenger in the car while your loved one drives to familiar places.  Take notes about how they did and review it after.  Things to pay attention to are maintaining speed, staying centered in the lane, making complete stops at stop signs, attention and reaction with left and right hand turns, ability to handle traffic.  Review your observations at the end of the drive.  This can open a conversation about why you have concerns.

4. It may be time for a formal driving assessment with Pathways Rehabilitation Services.  www.pathwaysrehabservices.com. This takes away the family dynamic and gives a professional opinion.

5.  Acknowledge that this is a difficult conversation but important because you love them and want them to stay safe.

Click here to learn more about helpful resources available to make difficult conversations easier.