December 7, 2010
A neighbor of your 83-year-old dad has called to tell you he saw your father back his car into a light pole. What do you say?
If the damage is visible, you could ask, "Hey Dad, what happened to the car?" Or you could bring up the phone call from his neighbor. "Fred from next door called and said he saw you run your car into the light pole." This is an example of a situation that calls for more general observation. Take the opportunity to drive with your parent. Even a short drive would help you gauge your dad's skills and deficits. For instance, an older adult who consciously reduces driving at night because of vision issues or who drives a little slower to account for reaction time is probably safe. On the other hand, an 83-year-old who insists on driving icy highways at night while doing 75 mph is probably in need of immediate intervention. Then gear your comments accordingly. If you're concerned that your dad is unsafe on the roads, make his safety and that of others your focus. "Dad, I'm worried that you're no longer safe on the roads and that others could be at risk as well."
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