A Holiday Faux Pas With Older Parents - Elderly Driving

A Holiday Faux Pas With Older Parents

Another holiday faux pas—using family time to tell an aging parent that maybe they ought to give up their car keys.


Want a real downer? Start talking to a senior about driving and maybe even getting rid of their car.

Here’s a stocking stuffer … just hide their keys and say later that fate intervened, and this is a sign that their driving days should come to an end.

But, seriously, at what age do we tell our parents that their independence is over?

When do we suggest that perhaps it would be best to give their car to a charity or maybe to their grandchild going to college in a few months?

Mixed signals

It’s kind of a funny thing, really. We drive up to a stop light and see folks on a cell phone – either talking, texting or watching a re-run of The Andy Griffith Show.

I wonder… has cell phone usage become part of the required driving skill set? Is the DMV going to test us to see if we can parallel park and text with the same hand?

How about using hand signal? Are we supposed to keep our hand out of the car window – with or without the phone? Or, do we have to learn traffic signs along with all the emoji’s to pass the written test?

What does any of this have to do with the dreaded conversation about seniors continuing to drive their car? Do seniors text while driving? Are the old folks catching up on the re-runs of General Hospital?

Maybe, but generally not while the car is moving forward. Most are just trying to focus on driving, as it should be.

Is it really time?

This is my take… Unless a senior driver is backing into mailboxes or running over bicycles, maybe wait a little before the car keys go “missing.”

Taking a car away from a senior is like taking a cell phone away from a teen—it’s isolation. The difference is that the teen will get over it and get the cell phone back. Once the keys to the car are taken away from a senior, they never go back to being a driver. And, in most cases, they never get over it.

Give it some thought. If you must do it, and no choice exists, OK. If the situation can wait, give it some time.

Take my advice for what it is…It’s just, AS I SEE IT!


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Leonard Baer About Leonard Baer

Leonard Baer is an elder law and estate attorney with offices in the Highlands, NC and Wellington, FL. His specialty is the prevention of elder abuse, particularly those who are victim to fraud. Visit his website

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