How do you navigate taking the keys away from an aging loved one?

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Taking the keys away from an aging relative can be a tricky and a very individualized situation to navigate for both parties. 

If you’re a family member who might be in this situation know there are resources available to you. 

Alan Ormsby, State Director AARP Utah says almost everyone thinks of driving as the ultimate independence, and the thought of giving it up is a hard pill to swallow at any age.

Ormsby says no matter the strength of the relationship between an individual and their aging family member, the conversations is always hard. She has three tips to help get you through it. 

“The first thing is to access your own biases–are you coming at this at a place of wanting to be sure the person you’re talking about is safe?”  

He advises asking yourself if it really is time to take the keys or are you stressing over something minor?

“The second step is to access the relationship. Do you have the kind of relationship where you can just sit down and say ‘hey I’m worried about you?” 

If you don’t feel like you can do these things Ormsby says the third action takes some feelings of discomfort away. 

“Use the state of Utah’s system to report. You can do this anonymously–you can report a person and say ‘I think this person is dangerous to society on the road, let’s go through the process of making sure they really are okay…or not okay.” 

He says in most cases it makes the most sense to have a professional assessment make the final decision.  

Ultimately it’s up to officials with the Division of Motor Vehicles to legally suspend or revoke an elderly person’s driver’s license.

Ormsby says every individual is unique. He says the biggest hurdle in his experience is always fear. 

 “You want to have those open lines of communication so whatever that loved one is going through, they know they can talk to you. You want to have that thoughtful conversation about ‘well where are you right now?’…’ how are you feeling about your mental capacity…are you worried about that?’  Those little things start to add up, but if nobody is thinking about them or talking with a person about them they can add up for a long time until it truly does become dangerous,” Ormsby says 

The AAPR Smart Drivers course and the Department of Public Safety’s reporting form are both resources available to anyone looking to keep their loved ones and others safe on Utah roads. 

Click here for the AARP Smart Drivers Program.

Click here for DMV Reporting UNSafe Driver form.

  • Note: Anyone that submits a false report is subject to a misdemeanor.

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