Older adults' driving reduction and cessation: perspectives of adult children

J Appl Gerontol. 2013 Dec;32(8):975-96. doi: 10.1177/0733464812448962. Epub 2012 Jun 25.


Purpose of the study: Adult children are often directly affected by aging parents' decision to limit or stop driving. This qualitative study examined the process of driving reduction and cessation (DRC) from the perspective of adult children, with a focus on family communication.

Design and methods: Four focus group interviews were conducted with 37 adult children (29/37 female; mean age = 45.5) of older parents using a structured protocol. Transcripts were analyzed by two independent coders to identify major themes.

Results: Themes represented three aspects of the DRC process: family communication and dynamics (i.e., discussion, negotiation, and planning; avoidance and side stepping; resignation and refusal), taking action to end a parent's driving career (i.e., engaging a third party; taking away the car), and post-cessation reflection (i.e., relief; social benefits; resentment and guilt).

Implications: Despite the potential benefits of planning for DRC, families are unsure about how best to approach this topic. Adult children worry about assuming responsibility for their parents' transportation needs and their parents' reactions to restricted mobility. Despite a reluctance to communicate openly about DRC, adult children and their parents share similar and significant concerns that merit increased attention.

Keywords: family communication; focus group interviews; mobility; qualitative; transportation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adult Children*
  • Aged
  • Automobile Driving*
  • Communication
  • Family Relations*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Role
  • Young Adult