My 92-year-old mother-in-law is a spit fire. A ‘free agent’ with an independent streak running a mile long (that’s part of why we love and admire her!). She does what she wants, when she wants to do it and won’t listen to reason if questioned. That’s why when my husband voiced his concerns to me about her driving, my response of “just sit down and have a conversation with her” was followed by his outburst of laughter. He was right. It’s not going to be that easy.
So, we gathered our thoughts in preparation of this conversation and want to share these tips with others in hopes for a successful outcome for all of us!
- Sit down together in a relaxing environment at a quiet, convenient time for both parties.
- Verbalize your intent. Be direct and to the point, yet calm and empathetic. Don’t talk ‘at’ but talk ‘to’ your loved one. (i.e. “I love you but want you to be safe. I’m concerned about your safety especially when you’re alone.” “Would you consider limiting your driving within your local neighborhood only?”. “How do you feel about driving?”)
- Allow time for a response and listen actively without judgement. Validate your loved one’s point of view and provide reassurance. (i.e., “I’m sorry, this must be difficult for you, and I understand this is a big part of your independence.” “Sounds like we both want the same thing; your safety and independence”)
- Offer alternative solutions. Develop a plan. When possible, offer a compromise (i.e. “Can we brainstorm to come up with a solution we are both comfortable with?” “Let’s make a list of places you like to go that require driving, then we will schedule days/times of your choice for a friend or family member to drive you”. “You seem to feel comfortable driving locally, so what if I were to drive you any time you want to go out of town?”)
- Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day! It may take multiple conversations to come up with a plan that both parties can agree on.
If you would like to discuss your situation with a Family Caregiver Specialist, please contact Aging Resources at 515-255-1310.