Driving is a “hot spot” issue for aging parents. Attempts by family members to modify, restrict, or take away driving privileges are in direct conflict with the older adult’s need for control even if it results in unsafe decisions about driving. One of the problems is that adult children assume they hold the leading position for influencing the driving habits of their aging parents. They don’t. That position is held by the primary care physician. While families need to play an active role in monitoring driving safety of aging parents, they need the help of a physician to address the issue of driver safety. This is why we created the Car Front Mind Map.
The Car Front Mind Map offers families a one-page diagram to assess the safety profile of both the car and the driver. Once completed, this assessment helps families deal with driver safety issues in four ways:
It reduces the burden of not knowing the big picture. The Car Front Mind Map provides everyone involved in the care of an aging parent with up to date information about driver safety issues. Many times this information is fuzzy, incomplete or only known by a few.
It reduces the burden of caregiving handoffs. The Car Front Mind Map offers a quick reference guide for other family members who want to lend a hand with transportation, car maintenance, or other tasks. It is especially helpful for coordinating last minute change of plans.
It reduces the burden of integrating driver safety information. The Car Front Mind Map serves as an information hub for sending driving updates to the caregiving team.
It reduces the burden of orchestrating a driving crisis. The Car Front Mind Map becomes an important resource for coordinating a response to a significant change in driving status.
How to use the Car Front Mind Map
Set up a map for an aging parent and develop a safety profile. Provide copies to other family members and ask for comments and revisions.
Fax a copy of the Car Front Mind Map to the aging parent’s primary care physician. Your fax will become part of the medical file. It will indicate your interest in preserving driver safety. Use the same protocol for any significant change in driving status you feel the primary care physician should know about.
If there are concerning driver safety issues that require immediate attention, set up a meeting with the primary care physician and review the family’s observations. The primary care physician is an authority at identifying driver’s at risk, enhancing driving safety, and, if necessary, easing the transition to driving retirement.