20 expert tips for the driving dilemma conversation

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Two of the biggest among the multitude challenges facing many Alzheimer’s dementia care partners are:

  1. “I want to go home.”
  2. trying to get a person with dementia who can no longer drive safely to stop driving

This post is about how to get a loved one to give up their car keys. Why? Because we all want to avoid head-on collisions (and BANGS) both off and on the road.

Top tip #1:

DO NOT attempt the “driving conversation” on your own with a loved one living with dementia.

 Instead, do this:

  1.  Enlist the help of an “expert” outsider whom your loved one respects
  2. Ask the expert to watch the Teepa Snow video below BEFORE the conversation
  3. Give the expert the list of “Tips for Conducting the Driving Dilemma Conversation” (you can download the PDF at the link below the video)
  4. Do a practice role play with your expert (you act the part of your loved one)
  5. Identify pitfalls, develop responses to use with the tips below

Tips for the expert whom you will enlist to conduct the driving dilemma conversation (see disclaimer):

  1. Create a connection
  2. Use “hand under hand”
  3. Make eye contact
  4. Identify the issue
  5. Flag the emotion
  6. Acknowledge competence
  7. Ask questions
  8. Praise & agree
  9. Show you know what they value
  10. Understand their position
  11. Invite them to consider consequences
  12. Offer options
  13. Build self esteem
  14. Be respectful
  15. Be on their side (against common “enemies”)
  16. Accept and value their input
  17. Identify external threats
  18. Offer solutions
  19. Give support
  20. Be a partner

See how many of the 20 tips you can spot in Teepa’s video:

 

 

You must give all of this information (i.e. the tips and the video) to the “expert” BEFORE the conversation, because even experts need support to get the job done. Success depends on a team effort.

Key words/questions:

Could we try?

What do you think?

As Teepa suggests:

“Use what you know about their values and what is important to them to help them make hard choices.”

Download 20 Tips for the Driving Dilemma Conversation

Find more great tips here.

Good luck and let me know how it goes!

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4 Comments

  1. Susan, another great blog. Teepa makes it look so easy. She has such a great talent.

    But of all the things, I went through with my husband, taking the keys was the easiest. I had expected it to be much worse.
    But after my husband drove to bring in a police officer to remove this strange lady (me) from his home. I reached over to him asked for the keys.
    The officer told him he could not have the keys to drive any more. He told my husband he did not want to see him driving.
    That was it.
    I truly believe he enjoyed being driven everywhere. My husband had been an officer for a while and I think that he had much respect for the uniform. So what began a nightmare for me was also a blessing in disguise.

    • Darla, that was fortunate. And I think it helps support Teepa’s point: enlisting the help of someone in authority, someone who the person living with dementia respects can really help. And yes, sometimes nightmares DO become blessings in disguise 🙂

      Thanks so much for commenting.

  2. Gregory and I never had to have this conversation. I had written my “argument” in case I needed to have it, but he was able to give up driving without a fight. He loved, respected, trusted, and differed to me. That was a good place to start. He would tell me he felt bad that I had to do all the driving, I answered, “I enjoy it, no problem.” A few times he said, “I would like to drive now and then.” I replied, “OK, lets talk about it later.” It never came up again. You might say I lucked out. You might say Gregory was enough in touch with his losses to know that driving was a rick and a fear for him. He did not equate “driving” with his “masculinity” and since we went everywhere together, his not driving did not curtail his activities. I guess I am fortunate that we did not have to have “the conversation.” P.S. Teepa’s approach is great!

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