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What do I do now?

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These are excellent posts. One thing to do is approach the elder armed with options. We have a senor van that goes the grocery stores, as well as many social events. There are cabs and even busses. The elder rightly sees a huge sense of independence being taken away, even if they rarely drive. They want to be able to just in case! But sometimes it has to be done.

If they are not able to safely drive, they must be stopped. Many people have had to take batteries out of cars or get the steering wheels locked. Determined elders can be tricky.

Some clinics have programs where people are screened mentally, examined physically and then taken out to drive under conditions where they likely would want to drive. If they are from a surrounding small town and only want to drive there, the instructor has them drive in an unfamiliar, but similar area. If they want to drive in the metro area, they must take the test in traffic. The passing or failure of this stringent exam is often a help to families who much go through this gut-wrenching transition of taking away the keys.

The Hartford (go to their site at www.thehartford.com and so some digging) has some good brochures and they may help the elders see the light.


Carol
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There are many articles on the web pointing to the dangers frequently involved with elderly drivers. You may want to show some of these articles to him. If he is unaffected by the statistics, my guess would be that he shouldn't be driving at all.

When my parents moved from Connecticut into the addition we built for them they applied for new drivers licenses. All they had to do was take an eye test. They were in their late 80's at the time. I was shocked that it was so easy since I knew my mothers judgments were being compromised by health issues at the time.

My father took her for a test drive and she asked him where the brake was! He didn't want to be the "bad guy" so I took her license without regret and I hear about it frequently. It took her a long time to forgive me but I'm OK with that.

You may want to remind your husband that it's not about him. The safety of other people is what's involved. . on the road and on the sidewalks as we've all seen in news reports. You know your husband better than any DMV tester.

It always amazes me when people think my mother is just fine (she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease a few years ago). She gets energized around new people and that extra kick of adrenaline makes it appear that there's nothing wrong. It doesn't last long before she's back to using her walker and forgetting the name of the visitor. She's also a very good actress when it comes to saving her self image.

If you have children you could ask them to get involved in the decision.
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We had this same situation. Doctor's are not the one's who will be held responsible in the event of an accident. Our family made the decision to have my dad stop driving because it was become problematic. No, there weren't any incidents or accidents. It was frightening to be with him in the car. He wasn't able to focus or pay attention (even for a short drive). Of course, it was difficult, but once we junked his car and told him that the doctor said.... he gradually became accepting of it. If anyone has even the slightest bit of hesitancy in letting their elderly parent drive, then take the keys. I can tell you that it isn't easy because now that independence is gone and someone will have to pick up the responsibility. Patience is key. Just think for a moment if you were no longer able to drive. It's difficult. You need to put safety in front of pride. I knew for me, I'd rather take on the extra responsibility of bringing dad whereever he wants to go rather than think about him crashing his car and getting seriously injured, or more importantly hurting someone else. I could never have lived with myself if that had happened. Again, roles reverse. I'd rather my dad be upset with me (which did occur for the first 6 months after we took the keys) than injure himself or an innocent person on the road. Also, just something else to think about. If you do nothing and knowingly are aware of the problems when your loved one is driving and an accident happens, the injured party can sue you and your father as well as the doctor who said that your parent was permitted to drive. The DMV should crack down on older drivers and anyone who is not driving safely (but that's another topic altogether). It is inconvenient, but necessary.
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Let us not lose sight of the original question, which was "My husband has dementia and is very insecure behind the wheel, so his psy wrote the DMV and asked them to test his driving skills. They passed him, what do I do now." Just being insecure behind the wheel is enough for me. He should not be driving. It is unsafe for himself and others! While is is difficult, being responsible is more important than hurting the feelings of someone who should not be driving. As I mentioned in my earlier post. Being in the car with my dad was frightening. He would make unsafe turns, not use his turn signals, pull out in front of other cars, drive too slowly, not come to complete stops, etc... While there are many drivers who do not have dementia that suffer from poor driving skills, for our family, I felt better taking the keys away from my father. Yes, he was angry! Very angry! We "used" his cataracts as a starting point. From there, it just progressed to the point where he was no longer driving. He was living on his own and it became difficult when he needed to run an errand or go to the doctor. But, that just comes with the territory. It is not an excuse saying "because the DMV passed him and gave him a license, meant that he was capable behind the wheel." Responsibility is key! The news article is eye-opening. I would absolutely never be able to live with myself if I knew that my father was driving and should not have been and an accident such as this occurred. The guilt would overcome me. We, as caregivers or family members need to take responsibility. Driving is a priviledge - not a right. Taking responsibility means that we take over the driving and running errands and such. Yes, it is sometimes becomes inconvenient. But I would much rather be inconvenienced than putting my father (and others) lives in jeopardy. The police, the DMV or anyone else is not responsible for monitoring elderly drivers. Trust me, my dad talked of nothing else for the first 6 months after his car was disposed of. That is all any of us heard. "I don't drink and drive, I don't do drugs, I never even got a ticket.!" Well, I explained it over and over again. After a while, Dad just became resigned to the fact that we were not going to let him behind the wheel. You need to balance allowing an elderly (dementia/alzheimer's) person a certain amount of independence without risking or endangering them (or others) to danger. As a caregiver, or a family member, you need to take responsibility before an accident occurs, or dad gets lost, etc... That means that you have to do the errands or bring them along. Yes, it sometimes is inconvenient. For me, I'd rather be inconvenienced than apologetic to a family member that was killed as a result of my dad's insecurity.
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How old is he? If he has on-set Dementia he should no where be near an automobile. The Dementia medications also make one sleepy as well. Does he demand to drive? Can you perhaps suggest that you or someone else will drive him instead? Why does he feel the need to drive? I would go back to the DMV and express that he has this on-set Dementia and should not be driving. What would happen if a serious accident happened....worst case scenario someone was maimed or killed in the accident. Let us know....
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he is 78 yrs. old,he drives very little,but wants the option of being able to go to the store if he wants to
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I bet it is difficult...I know I love the ability to drive. My mom has never driven in her life so that made it easy in one way for me, but for 10 years of playing taxi is not so fun either ;-).
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You must stop any person that is impaired from getting behind the wheel! Would you let a drunk drive??
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tnmom,
Be careful of those broad general statements. Unless you've experienced the difficulty of taking away the keys from a parent with a sterling driving record whose physician does not have the authority to direct the DMV to pull a license and you have no alternative arrangements for transporting your independent parent wherever and whenever he wants to go...well you get the picture.
A drunk is not impaired 24/7 so a "designated driver" is a good option. And the DUI laws in most states are stringently enforced so the law is on your side when you take the keys away. It is not so with Dementia or even debilitating forms of mental illness.
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Yes, I get the picture. My husband has dementia, and I do understand the implications of taking his keys away. I also have a grandchild that was killed by an impaired driver. It is my responsibility as a spouse to ensure that my husband does not bring harm to himself or some innocent party. I don't know the area where other persons live, however I have lived in several different states, and there is always public transportation, and most often senior services that will pick up and deliver seniors that cannot drive for whatever reason. I still see no excuse for allowing people on our highways that should not be driving.
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