SEATTLE — When and how should you talk to your aging parent about no longer driving?
It’s a question Maeve Dorsey is open to hearing.
Dorsey is walking a lot more nowadays, not just because it’s good for her health.
The 84 year-old says she no longer feels comfortable driving new routes.
“I am very careful, I am so afraid of something happening, you know?” Dorsey said.
That’s why on Wednesday she stopped by the Wallingford Community Senior Center to learn about bus routes.
Driving safety is a daily conversation at the center.
“I can’t tell you how many times I have talked to an older adult about, so how are you getting around?” social worker Denise Malm said.
The center's director, Claire Petersky says that question needs to be asked at home as well.
“One of the best tests I think I can use: Would I send my kid with my parents to some place? If the answer is, that makes me nervous -- then we need to sit down and have a conversation,” Petersky said.
It's a heartbreaking thing because giving up their car keys also means losing a lot of independence.
Malm says the key is to include your parents when finding alternative solutions.
“I love you and I worry about you and I just want to you to be safe, but I am not going to take away your keys, I want you to be a part of the solution,” Malm said in suggesting how to approach the subject with a parent or grandparent.
If you have had multiple conversations about giving up the car keys and it's going nowhere, there is one other option in Washington state. You can fill submit a form, a driver evaluation, alerting the state Department of Licensing of an unsafe driver. Anyone can submit the form but it cannot be anonymous and you have to have personal firsthand experience with the person. The form is not only for the elderly, it is any age.
“If they can’t demonstrate that they can safely operate a car, they will pull the license,” Petersky said.
Dorsey says some older adults may resist but, for her, safety is first.
“I would like to believe I will know, and I am perfectly willing to give up my car,” Dorsey said.