My granddad is in his 90s, but he won’t quit driving

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female university student in my 20s. I want my grandfather in his mid-90s to quit driving, but he won’t listen to me.

He has caused several traffic accidents while driving since he got older. He once told us he “would not drive again.” However, he suddenly said recently, “I want to drive a car,” and purchased a secondhand luxurious imported car without discussing the matter with any of us.

As family members, we were all greatly upset by this and tried to persuade him to stop driving. But he just said, “I’m good at driving.”

My grandfather and father have constantly argued over the matter. Their relationship has really deteriorated. Recently, both of them use me as a mediator, with my grandfather saying to me, “Tell your father not to bother me,” and my father saying, “Ask him, if he causes an accident, who he thinks will handle it.”

I am sick and tired of being caught in the middle.

Honestly, I want to allow my grandfather to do what he wants to do. However, I’m still concerned about his driving as his physical capabilities have obviously declined. How can I persuade my overly self-confident grandfather to quit driving?

K, Tokyo

Dear Ms. K:

When I read your letter, I thought your grandfather’s driving may entail some considerable danger. As he isn’t aware of it himself, it will be very difficult for other people to stop him driving.

I want to highlight the issue of your grandfather and father using you to communicate between them.

This means you get caught between them, but it also offers a clue to solve the problem.

Your father’s sound argument results in a hardening of your grandfather’s heart.

So, I recommend you use your own words in conveying your father’s comments to your grandfather. Start with “My father praises your driving skills” to please him, then, “but you caused accidents before, so he’s concerned about you. He doesn’t want your driving history to be seriously affected,” and “We all feel that way.” You should say this softly. You could continue, like, “Granddad, you are more suited to sit in the rear seat of such a luxurious car, aren’t you? So why not let dad drive it from now on? He’s the right person to be your chauffeur.”

By flattering him and playing to his pride, you may be able to persuade him to quit driving.

This strategy should work well as it will be used by his beloved granddaughter. Good luck!

Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist

(from April 24, 2015, issue)Speech

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