Driving is one off the more touchy issues to discuss with an older person. AARP in cooperation with The Hartford and MIT AgeLab have developed an interactional online tutorial called “We Need to Talk”. It consists of four modules, the first of which addresses how to have the conversation. It identifies the emotions many elders hold about driving and the concerns its loss would raise. It also discusses the emotions of the child or concerned adult having these conversations with a parent or an older loved one. The notion of active listening is explained as an important skill in these discussions.

This tutorial advances ideas that are important when discussing most sensitive issues with an elder. Empathy, reflective listening, and self-awareness are key elements to successful dialogues. It also advises advance planning, so alternatives are readily at hand. If you can relate to the difficulty of such encounters, this tutorial may be helpful. Here is the link. https://elearning.aarp.org/pages/course/CourseMaterial.aspx?courseid=371

An aspect that isn’t fully developed in the tutorial that we have encountered is the inner battle within an elder noticing a decline in abilities. My mother was an excellent example. She acknowledged sometimes feeling disoriented while driving but could only see relinquishing it as the end of her. Discussions were landmines for anger and resentment which could be directed at others. A neutral third party may be helpful in situations such as these. In our mediations, we encourage participants to talk to us directly. This promotes more open dialogue and avoids evoking personal arguments that often distract from the intended subject.