Money in the Middle

Sandwich Generation Talking About Money Up, Down and Across Generations

Archive for January 2011

Adult children and aging parents: enable or safety in driving?

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In a week of horrific front page news, it’s the story about an elderly couple who got lost driving home and froze to death that haunts me.

For anyone in the delicate balance of respecting the wishes of aging parents who want to keep driving and trying to make sure they are safe, the story captures our greatest fear.  We’ll miss a critical sign that can mean the difference between life and death..The headline reads:

Elderly Couple found Frozen To Death After Getting Lost During Drive

The daughter was quoted as saying: “We didn’t realize it was time to do more. We didn’t realize it was time. . . . Oh, the second-guessing that is running through our minds.”

They had taken precautions – gathering in places where the drive would be short and familiar; providing a cell phone; checking in to make sure they arrive — things many of us have done to help honor our parent’s wish to keep driving, at the same time hoping we are keeping them safe enough.

Maybe it’s just that I returned from driving my mother down to Florida — taking the 14 hour drive off her, but giving her the freedom to get around on her own there for the next few months.

I sometimes worry about becoming an enabler – that is, helping continue a routine that really needs to be altered in realistic response to aging issues.  When actually the discussion should be about how we adjust to a change and find new ways to accomplish the activities that keep us feeling independent.  There is so much fear wrapped up in the ability to no longer drive.

There are many resources available about the issue of aging and driving.  Some great websites about how to have the conversation and options available to help transition to a non-driver.  Here are a couple of those website if you are tackling the driving and aging issue.  I also find them helpful in beginning to think about how I want to handle this situation as I age.

Family conversations about driving from The Hartford

Older Drivers by AAA

Such a horrific story.   But  one that reminds us all that sometimes we have to push the balance between respect and safety even more than we’re comfortable with when it comes to aging parents and driving (among other issues).  My heart goes out to the family who tried so hard to find that right balance between respecting wishes and taking away the keys.  It’s so hard to know what’s right.

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Written by Laura Rossman

January 14, 2011 at 7:18 pm