The U.S. population age 65 and older is estimated to increase from 47 million in 2015 to 72 million in 2030, according to U.S. Census data, meaning more senior drivers will be on the roads. This also means that more adult children may need to have difficult conversations with their aging parents about driving.
However, a new survey released by Liberty Mutual Insurance surfaces an important problem: Although more than half of baby boomer children of senior drivers are concerned about their parents' driving abilities, few are actually having conversations with their parents about the issue - and nearly one-third say they are likely to avoid the conversation entirely.
Boomers' top concerns associated with senior driving include poor eyesight, poor hearing, slow driving and distracted driving. The survey even indicates that boomers are more concerned about their aging parents driving than they are about family members driving under the influence.
Despite these valid concerns, it's still difficult for most boomers to know when and how to initiate a conversation about driving with their senior loved ones. Many predict that their parents will react negatively to the conversation, including being angry, hurt, or even more determined to keep driving.
Liberty Mutual Insurance offers tips for boomers to consider before and during conversations about driving with senior loved ones:
Before you talk:
- Take a ride with your parents and observe their driving. Watch their awareness of their driving environment. Do they have slow reaction times? Are there dents, close calls, tickets or warnings?
- Look into alternate transportation solutions and be prepared to discuss options.
- Most importantly, make plans to discuss the topic early and frequently and set realistic expectations. It is likely that the matter will not be resolved with the first discussion.
During your talk:
- Consider beginning the conversation with a question about how your parent feels while driving.
- Listen to what your senior parent is saying and truly hear their concerns. Highlight your concern for their safety and the safety of others.
- Use a respectful tone and avoid getting drawn into an argument.
- Frame the conversation in a positive light, noting there are solutions to preserving mobility and independence when driving is no longer safe.