How to Help Elderly Relatives Transition from Driving

By Abi Grise Morgan 9.14.23

As we age, our situational awareness, reaction times, vision, and motor control decline, posing risks for older drivers and others on the road. The CDC reports that in 2020, approximately 7,500 older adults were killed in car crashes (averaging 20 per day), and another 200,000 were treated in the ER for crash injuries.

If your loved one is getting older and having a difficult time staying vigilant on the road, here are a few ways to help them transition from driving while allowing them to maintain independence:

Start Conversations Early

Begin discussing the topic before the need to stop driving arises. Be patient and empathetic, listening to their feelings and concerns. Giving up driving is a significant loss for older individuals. Avoid being confrontational and let them know your concern comes from love — you want to keep them safe!

Keep Them Aware of Texas Law

Texans 79 years or older are required to renew driver licenses in person at their local driver’s license office. For persons aged 79-84, licenses expire after six years. People 85 and older must renew on their second birthdate after the previous expiration date. For renewal, they’ll be required to pass a vision test successfully and may require extra testing and evaluation based on their medical history.

Involve Health Care Professionals

Doctors can conduct comprehensive assessments of your loved one’s physical and cognitive abilities, providing an objective evaluation of their fitness to drive. They’re also a neutral third party to weigh in, potentially avoiding family conflicts. The perceived loss of independence can be a difficult pill to swallow, and having a doctor lay out medical evidence may be more convincing than a family member’s advice.

Introduce Alternate Transportation

There are tons of options for seniors to locomote from here to there, from public transit to ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft. If they’re especially nervous about rideshares, a subscription with Alto is a good option, as its services include vehicles with leather seats, HEPA air filters and cleanings between rides, and creature comforts like complimentary water and umbrellas.

Show Them How to Use Delivery Services

If there can be an upside to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s perhaps the speed at which retailers innovated their delivery services. If your relative is concerned about the logistics of grocery shopping without a car, it’s a good time to introduce them to grocery delivery services like Amazon Fresh, Walmart+, Tom Thumb, Instacart, Kroger, and more.

Make the Transition from Driving Gradual

Don’t slam on the brakes all at once. Allow your loved one to adjust to driving less before quitting cold turkey. Start by having them only drive during daylight hours in familiar neighborhoods while avoiding highways. Gradually reducing driving can make the transition less abrupt.

While you’re looking out for the elderly people in your life, remember that the elderly are, unfortunately, often targeted by scam artists. Keep your loved ones aware of these scam tactics.

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