A contract to stop your elderly parent from driving?

The answer to getting your elderly parent to stop driving may come long before they are physically unable to drive. Having your elderly loved one hang up their keys and surrender their Nebraska driver’s license can be a touchy subject. Some are broaching this subject early. A blog post on The New York Times‘ website mentions a novel way that some are doing this: with a contract. 

The contract, signed while the driver is still able to safely drive, makes it apparent that the reason for one day preventing the person from driving stems from a love of them and consideration of their safety and the safety of others. Having the conversation before someone needs to intervene and establishing a contract can make the decision less painful, and put the decision somewhat in the driver’s hands.

The agreement is used to signify that the elderly driver recognizes that a trusted relative will notify him when he should stop driving, or only drive under certain restrictions. By signing the document, he pledges to accept his trusted relative’s recommendation when the time comes. The driver, a witness and the person who will advise him when to stop driving all sign the agreement.

Matt Gurwell came up with the idea from informal contracts recommended for teen drivers and their families. Gurwell retired after 24 years as an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper and during that time brought more than 100 death notifications to people’s doors. Gurwell said a substantial proportion of those involved elderly drivers. The article points out that after age 75, drivers have worse crash records than young drivers and are more vulnerable to injury and death.

Gurwell told The New York Times, “I saw a significant void in how we deal with this problem. Families don’t know what to do. Physicians sometimes don’t want to get involved. Courts hands are tied because of sentencing guidelines. It’s a hot potato.

The contract has no legal weight and some drivers will not sign or adhere to, but it seems like a delicate way to approach the subject.

If you’re concerned with the safety of your elderly loved one behind the wheel, plan on discussing it as soon as possible. Help and advice is always available via senior care providers such as Encompass Senior Solutions.

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the challenges families face in caring for aging parents, with a focus on strategies that keep them in their homes. To learn more about our solutions, visit http://www.encompass-assessments.com.”