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Driving: Issues for children of elderly parents
This is a very difficult conversation for one to have with their elderly parents. Aging doesn’t automatically mean they need to stop driving. However If changes need to be made regarding ones’ parents ability to drive then there are a lot of decisions and changes that will have to be made. A persons’ ability to drive is closely tied with their feeling of independence and wellbeing. There are the logistical issues too: Shopping, appointments, errands etc still have to be done. Done by whom, they have to be done by someone else.
So how does one know that the time has come to at least have the conversation. There are some things to look for that make it obvious. Its not as simple a matter of not being able to locate the car in the mall parking lot or not remembering the destination or the route. It should be more fundamental. Are they a danger to themselves and others e.g Do they fail to observe traffic signals? Do they become confused? Make basic driving errors?
When the time comes one needs to take into consideration the impact that this will have. It is important to be firm but respectful and be ready to give specific examples. There is likely going to be a negative reaction so if possible involve someone else in the conversation. Preferably someone trusted e.g. doctor, friend or relative. Obviously since mobility is at issue it would be helpful to have alternatives available. These include walking, possibly even bicycling if possible. Public transportation is usually widely available as are shuttles. Motorized wheelchairs might work if the environment allows it. Certainly taxis or private drivers can make life a lot more convenient. Another option is to hire an agency like Thrive at Home www.thriveathome.com who can provide a caregiver that can help with the driving.
Unfortunately there are times, for example, with Alzheimer’s or Dementia patients where the patients refuses to stop driving. This is especially difficult because actions will have to be taken without their approval. This might require that the keys be taken away and the car sold or disabled. However An unsafe driver can kill themselves and others.
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