Keeping the driving conversation going

Your follow-up conversations can help you work with the older adult to make driving more comfortable and safe, explore transportation options or plan for driving retirement.

Follow-up conversations can be good opportunities to:

  • Share and discuss new information

  • Weigh the pros and cons of different options

  • Ask if the older adult's preferences or plans have changed since the last time you talked

  • Involve professionals, family or friends whose experiences and opinions you both value

If you and the older adult agreed on next steps during your first conversation, it can be easy to bring up driving again. For example: "Are your car mirrors working better for you now?" or "I found out there are a few driving classes coming up nearby."

If the first conversation didn't end with clear plans or on a positive note, there are other ways to begin a follow-up conversation. You might want to:

  • Build on a specific point from the previous discussion: "You said that you don't like to drive on highways. Are you still able to go where you want to? Would you like to get rides from others sometimes?"

  • Discuss a different driving topic: "I know you're not interested in getting a professional driving evaluation, but how would you feel about getting your vision checked?"

  • Try to understand the older adult's point of view: "You said you don't want to take the bus. Why? Do you think it would be a hassle or not go where you want?"

  • Explain why this is important to you: "I know that it seems too early to talk about driving retirement, but it takes a while to figure out other ways to get around."

  • Highlight how other things might affect driving: "I know you have plans to have your cataracts removed. Until then, can I or others give you rides if you need to go somewhere at night?"

  • Space out conversations: "It's been a few weeks since we talked about having your medications reviewed. Do you still think that's a good idea? Do you want me to make an appointment?"

Ask more open-ended questions to encourage the older adult to share their thoughts and opinions. If you ask lots of "leading" questions - like "Wouldn't carpooling with Aunt Chris make more sense?" - it can seem like you're just trying to get them to go along with what you want.

Try to have smaller, more frequent conversations, rather than a few big ones. That gives you and the older adult time to get information and consider options before you discuss driving safety again.

Avoid launching into a driving conversation every time you talk with the older adult. Try to balance the "serious" talk with time spent simply enjoying each other's company.