For many seniors, the loss of their ability to drive is a milestone that has been dreaded for years. Chances are, Dad is aware that his vision is failing, or that his reflexes have slowed. He's aware that it's no longer as safe for him to be behind the wheel as it once was. While he's concerned about those issues, chances are, your dad is also concerned about a number of other things. Knowing what fears he faces will help you handle the conversation more compassionately and give you the tools to have a clear, calm conversation with your dad about the fact that he can't drive anymore.
Fear #1: Isolation
The ability to drive is also the ability to connect with people. Thanks to his car, Dad can visit his friends, spend lunch time out at a restaurant just for the ability to be around people, or come visit you when he decides he's ready. Letting go of his ability to drive means letting go of his ability to get out of the house. Make sure that you make plans that will allow your father to connect with people on a regular basis. Stop by often and arrange for friends to come to him, then take him out, in order to handle those fears.
Fear #2: Handling Daily Chores
When you run out of toilet paper three days before you're supposed to go the grocery store again, it's simple to stop and pick up a pack--when you have a driver's license. Suppose you're low on toothpaste, or short just one ingredient for a recipe: it's as simple as getting in your car to go acquire more. Without his car, however, Dad isn't going to be able to do that anymore. Develop a plan for taking care of those daily chores, from doctor's appointments to quick trips out to the grocery store. Band together with your siblings in order to be sure that someone is always available for those last-minute errands.
Fear #3: Becoming a Burden
All your life, your dad has taken care of you. Now, it's time for you to take care of him--but he may be wary of becoming a burden. Assure your father that he's not a burden to you: that you enjoy the time with him and that you don't mind helping with those necessary tasks that he's no longer able to accomplish for himself. Remember, he's the same person he always has been--just with some health problems that make it inadvisable for him to do his own driving.
The transition to not driving is difficult for many seniors. For some, the loss of that ability is easier to handle if they receive regular in-home care. As you are learning to deal with the changes that aging can bring, be patient with yourself, patient with your loved one, seek advice and answers to questions, and remember you are not in this alone. Contact a Caring Senior Service team member today!