Rehab Insights is a weekly blog written by Burke Rehabilitation professionals to offer practical information for patients, families and the community. It's goal is to educate the reader on relevant topics in rehabilitation, general health and wellness.

How to Help an Aging Parent Cope When They Can No Longer Drive

April 21, 2015

Aging parentsThis is part two in a series about aging parents and driving. Click here to read part one, about why you might consider a Driver Evaluation.

As we mentioned in last week’s post, Burke’s Outpatient Occupational Therapy Department offers a comprehensive two-part Driver Assessment program that can help caregivers sort out what steps to take regarding their loved ones ability to drive safely. (Learn more about the program.)

If, after the evaluation, a therapist makes the recommendation to your loved one's doctor that your parent should stop driving, dealing with the news can be difficult and an extremely tough transition. Giving up driving can be a life-altering decision for your loved one to accept. Children and caregivers of aging adults are faced with a difficult role to play, but there are ways to make it a bit easier for a parent.

How to help your loved one cope with the decision to stop driving:

- Be respectful of your loved ones years of experience and fond memories they may have of driving. Listen to them reminisce and reflect on the many years they have enjoyed behind the wheel. Even ask them advice on driving related activities from time to time to show that you value their experience.

- Discuss the benefits of not driving, including the financial aspects of paying for insurance and maintaining the vehicle, and fewer obligations to others they may be responsible for driving around. It might come as a relief to some older drivers as they may be feeling stress regarding their own ability to drive, but not be able to recognize it.

- Help find alternatives to getting around. Be prepared with a list of local transportation resources; offer to take them to the store or the mall when you or other friends or family members are going.

- Consider delivery services such as groceries, prescriptions or dry cleaning. Many of these services offer senior citizen discounts.

- Emphasize the safety of themselves and OTHERS. An unsafe driver poses a very dangerous threat on the road.

For additional resources, visit:
The American Association of Retired persons www.aarp.org
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration www.nhtsa.org
The American Occupational Therapy Association www.aota.com

For more information on the Burke Driver Evaluation, please contact the information line at (914) 597-2187 or check out our website www.burke.org/outpatient/services/occupational-therapy/driver-evaluation. We offer this program at both the Main Campus and Somers Satellite locations.

 —Andrea Sullivan, OT/L, Occupational Therapy Supervisor, Burke Outpatient Services

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Burke's Rehab Insights blog is intended to provide general information about rehabilitation and other health care topics. It should not take the place of medical care. Burke staff cannot comment on individual medical cases or give medical advice.

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