Follow
Share

We invited my grandmother to New Year's day dinner at our house and she did come. We had reminded her to pack an overnight bag and stay the night. She has cataracts in both eyes and has a restricted drivers license. Which means she can't drive at night. Did she pack an overnight bag and spend the night? Nope, she bolted as soon as she could and drove home. We had reminded her 3 times that she cannot drive at night and her license states that. She responded with, "I can drive at night, I know how." We asked if she was prepared to lose her license and either hurt or kill someone because she can't see at night. She said that was none of her concern. What should we have done? What can we do in the future? Both grandmothers houses are not big enough to accommodate all the family for holidays.

Find Care & Housing
@Evermore99, has anything changed since you posted this on January 2?

If not... Does Grandma refuse to have the surgery? If she's anything like my mom, she may be afraid of it, especially if she hasn't had much previous surgical experience. Or she may think it will cost too much (it doesn't, if Grandma has Medicare Part A and Part B, supplemental or private insurance).

My mom had cataracts for many years, and by the time she turned 78, they had ripened to the point where they had made her almost completely blind. She had no previous surgical experience, was scared to death of the operation, and besides, she said, "I'm not going to live that long anyway." Unlike your grandma, however, she had voluntarily stopped driving when in her early 60's due to degenerative joint disease.

I finally convinced Mom to have the surgery. Unfortunately, when she went in to have the preliminary exam, she couldn't see the eye chart, and they had to make their best guess as to the proper prescription for the implanted lenses, based on her previous glasses prescription. The end result was an insufficient correction, as she is extremely myopic, and has a macular pucker and had abandoned glaucoma treatment years before.

The surgery was also much more difficult than it should have been - I was watching on a monitor on the observation deck above the surgical suite, and even the clinic volunteer, who was watching with me, remarked that she had never seen one as difficult. It took more than twice as long as it should have.

So, as others have said, it's imperative that Grandma have the surgery. Waiting too long may cause unnecessary complications. Decisions on her ability to drive can be made after post-surgical evaluation.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to PeeWee57
Report

There are two solutions. First of all, MAKE HER GET THE CATARACTS REMOVED AND HAVE HER EYES EXAMINED. If this is successful and she can see, ride with her and judge how she drives at night. If she is o.k., not much you can say but no matter how rebellious and stubborn, make those cataracts disappear. If after all is said and done, and she really is a danger, then the family or her doctor can report this to Motor Vehicle for retesting. But you must be willing to provide all data and divulge who you are and same for the doctor. It cannot be done anonymously. And one additional point you must consider as a necessity if you want her to stop her driving. SOMEONE MUST ASSURE HER THAT SHE WILL BE TAKEN WHERE/WHEN SHE NEEDS TRANSPORTATION. You cannot expect someone to give up their car which they depend on unless you offer them an alternative - and yes, I know all the reasons why she should not drive - BUT I STAND FIRM. YOU MUST GUARANTEE ALTERNATE TRANSPORTATION.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Riley2166
Report

I am convinced that she can't possibly be a bigger risk then some idjut driving while texting, she probably pays way more attention because she knows her eyesight is compromised.

Please do the research on cataract surgery so she knows what to expect and how she wants it done eg both eyes for distance or one each distance and close. Everyone I know that has had it done loves it but they wish they would have known about the glare created by the new lenses and that one of each would get rid of reading glasses.

Help her keep her license and independence as long as possible, it is so important to their wellbeing.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Isthisrealyreal
Report

Report her to the DMV.

And seriously, no surgery? Even if Medicare won't pay it, it's roughly $6K for both eyes. Well worth the investment.

Driving is just brutal, they can't give it up. My father, who stopped driving, won't sell his cars. He spends about a $1,000/year on car insurance too.

But, he's not driving.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to dontgetthechees
Report

You could ground the car by making it unable to start.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Riverdale
Report

You can have the department of licensing revoke her license.Just state that she is a hazard to herself and others on the road.I did this to an elderly women I cared for.She would drive down the center of a 4 way highway at 90 miles per hour; changing lanes constantly.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Abf1202
Report

The family was arguing. Grandma doesn't care any less than the next person about injuring herself or other people, she was merely rejecting the point. She disagrees that this is more likely to happen to her than to other drivers.

She insists on driving at night because it is convenient to her. From not checking tyre pressures through to speeding, parking badly, using cellphones, ignoring warning signs, aggressive overtaking, driving under the influence and, come to that, driving without insurance or with a nasty cold coming on, individual convenience is surely the very commonest reason for most bad driving behaviours.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Countrymouse
Report

I echo Mary Kathleen - what's she got against cataract surgery?

Your grandmother never entertained the idea of staying overnight. She came, she went home, she conquered: QED, she can drive at night, no matter what it says on her licence, because she did, and she's in one piece to say so, and she'll now be more convinced than ever that she is right and the rest of the world is wrong.

So unless you're prepared to shop her to the authorities you're wasting your breath arguing with her.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Countrymouse
Report

This is very common in an elder's "wrong thinking mentality." Lose her car keys.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Llamalover47
Report

When my two friends continued to drive after their licenses were revoked, I called Adult Protective Services to ask for advice. When someone phones, they have to go check on the people. I made sure I got there first so they would let her in. ( I am their POA for all their affairs). She sat and talked with them a while, mostly the husband. The wife had frontal temporal dementia and couldn't process questions well any more or make sensible answers. When asked how they got their groceries, the husband replied about going to the store as usual. When asked if he knew their licenses were revoked, he answered with a surprised tone: "They are?" When talking one on one with the husband later she asked what he thought they should do with the car if they can't drive. He responded: "Sell it and get some money out of it." At that point he gave me the keys when I asked for them. He had refused to do that previously when I asked.
I moved the car to a friend's garage until we could get it ready to sell, so the issue was resolved. About two months later, we got a phone call about 7:30 one morning and he was exclaiming "Our cars are gone!" He had forgotten the whole thing. He doesn't have dementia, but his short term memory is shot.
Once their car was gone, I would take them shopping once a week for groceries and to any appointments they had. This gave me a good excuse to be with them each week and see how things were doing. We had been friends for over 40 years and this was not a hardship for me. Adult Protective Services proved to be the best solution in this case. I learned later that it was their eye doctor that alerted the DMV to their failing abilities--not with eyesight, but with dementia and forgetting. Neither one ever responded to the letter from the DMV to come in for a driving test, so the revocation was automatic.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to JohnnyJ
Report

If she truly cannot see, (has a doctor certified to this fact?), then when she comes to visit, take the keys and do NOT let her drive at night. She is not going to admit she can't see at night and is very independent and wants to drive. Or, if she really can't see at all properly, you may have to have her license (and keys and car) taken away. However, there is one thing you MUST FACE AND PREPARE FOR. IF YOU ARE GOING TO TAKE HER DRIVING/CAR AWAY, THEN Y O U MUST BE PREPARED TO TAKE HER WHEN/WHERE SHE WANTS TO GO. And you have to do it - otherwise you will have hell on your hands.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Riley2166
Report

I would call her eye doctor. He can report her to DMV. Problem may be the length of time they send her the letter to turn in her license. My Gson has Epilepsy. His Dr. sent a report in Jan to DMV, Gson received a notice to surrender his license in March with an April deadline. My Gson didn't drive in that time but what if he had.

Years ago they did not replace the lens with cataract surgery. They wore thick glasses to see. I am in the early stages and can't wait to get surgery. I don't like driving at night and things blur at a distance.

I think all states have to initiate a law that at 80 to renew a license you must take an eye exam and a driving test.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to JoAnn29
Report
cak2135 Jan 6, 2019
I have epilepsy, too; the catamenial type. It is basically a funky hormone imbalance which makes me super sensitive to hormone changes. I had to surrender on three different occasions; I always got my license back. I did just as I was told even though I did not agree with it.
(1)
Report
Hello. Your grandmother is a danger to herself and others. She is breaking the law and has expressed a total disregard to caring. If she has no dementia, she is still a safety risk and hazard that shouldn’t be on the road. Report her to the DMV as such and they will require her to come in to take a driving test and if she doesn’t, her license will be revoked. She gets in a car, you call the cops.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to Alzh101
Report

A few responses. One, cataract surgery is very accessible. My mom had it done in her late 80s. It was very quick and she could almost immediately see incredibly well, and she still sees better than I do. She can see a squirrel or a tiny bird way across a yard. It's pretty amazing.

Two, you take the keys away.

Three, you find a hotel or an AIRBNB or you MAKE ROOM for her.

Four, someone goes and picks her up and brings her back home.

Five, you speak with her doctor or gerontologist and you have them speak with her about driving at night. It is not acceptable for her to put either herself or ANYONE else at risk. (Someone ran into me last year and I had a broken femur. What if this was your grandmother who had caused the accident?)
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Rabanette
Report

I so disagree with those responding about grandma potentially having dementia. She is just being a stubborn elder insistent on maintaining her independence until the decision is no longer hers to make because she is in an accident or kills someone. She is showing very poor judgment. As is the family who is good enough to want to include her in the holiday events, but not so forward thinking as to go get her yourselves (no doubt she'd turn away a private hire driver). Maybe it's too much commotion and she didn't want to spend the night. Just say, next time, you'll pick them both up and take them home, or someone will. Or although it's not the same I know, celebrate at a restaurant. FYI, there is a program started by a guy named Matt Gurwell called Keeping Us Safe...there is a work book, and depending on your area someone may be able to conduct an assessment of Grandma's driving skills and thought processing. Is anyone POA? You could probably have the car towed. Contact your local agency on aging for transportation alternatives on a daily basis. Also wonder if Grandma(s) would consider cataract surgery. My dad had both eyes done before he turned 100 in a deliberate attempt to make sure he passed his driving test. He did. He'll be 102 in May and just bought a new care...and although I don't approve of all his driving decisions...he appears to be a decent driver.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to robinr
Report
robinr Jan 7, 2019
Sorry, typo, that was a new CAR LOL.
(0)
Report
See 1 more reply
Why does she insist on driving at night? If killing someone is of no concern to her, she is not thinking right. Maybe she has dementia, like someone else suggested.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Isabelsdaughter
Report
Riley2166 Feb 24, 2019
I look at this as follows. First everyone who drives must not only be safe and healthy enough to drive. And second, they must be concerned about safety of all people and animals who are outside that she could harm. Those things are just plain basic sense and the same goes for legal issues that can occur. However, I think it comes down to a sense of "survival" for her (an inherent trait every human possesses - we want to survive). I think that HER SURVIVAL as opposed to the survival concerns of others is first in her mind. I don't think that is necessarily dementia - she is concerned about her own survival and what she needs to do to keep surviving which, in this case, is about her being able to drive. I don't know what to say to that because it makes perfect sense as she is a human who wants to survive - and this is one of the ways she wants to do that.
(0)
Report
I am less concerned about the cataracts than how her attitude towards them & restrictions is so self-centred

She seems to be in early to mid dementia where they are in denial & stubborn about being told what as well as forgetful - they seem to be afraid at this stage of loosing control & can be acting like a drunk trying to show that they aren't so drunk where everything they do only shows it more -

Keep an eye on her with this in mind & it might be the time for the family to have a talk because there is more going on than some may have noticed

Immediately call: ministry of transport, her eye doctor & her regular doctor so that they can action taking that license away - meanwhile disable that car somehow before she drives off & gets lost then causes an accident
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to moecam
Report
mally1 Feb 8, 2019
I absolutely agree, and you said it better than I could, Moecam.... Sounds like the beginnings of dementia to me, too.
(3)
Report
Driving to your dinner is the least of your problem. If she is continuing to drive at night.
She is a danger to herself and others.
Report her to DMV;
Disable her car. Arrange for Uber pick-up/drop off

Another alternative is change the timing of your dinner to a brunch and have everything end well before night.
Helpful Answer (17)
Reply to MsRandall
Report
DrBenshir Jan 6, 2019
You are exactly correct. Write to the department of motor vehicles stating that she doesn't see well and that she doesn't understand that she creates a safety risk to herself and others. If anyone has seen her hit curbs, miss street signs, miss traffic signals or have trouble parking please state that too. It will take a few months but her license will be suspended until she can pass a driving evaluation. How would she feel if she injured one of her own grandchildren while they were walking over to say goodbye? There is no excuse for her refusal to be a responsible driver. Since she obviously won't self regulate she has proven that her judgement cannot be trusted. Please feel free to show her my response.
(7)
Report
Why doesn't she get cataract surgery? My mom remembered how it was in the old days and wouldn't do it. I couldn't convence her surgery techniques had changed. I was thrilled to have my eyes done. I could see so good at night. Also I didn't realize how bright and white colors were afterwards.

Encourage her to have the surgery, for quality of life if no other reason. Before surgery I had some white towels and underware that were brownish and dingy. I would bleach them and bleach them. Couldn't get them white. After surgery I realize the poor little things were white, it was my cataracts that I was looking through that made them look dingy. I also had a pair of slacks that I thought were one color. Turned out they were another color and I had been wearing the wrong color blouse with them. My doctor laughed and said one client was going to paint their house because it looked so discolored. He advised them to wait until they had the surgery before making a decision. They didn't have to paint.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to MaryKathleen
Report

I agree with the idea of taking away the keys. But you don't want to get into a wrestling match over them! Have a policy where *everyone* turns in their keys when they arrive, especially if any alcohol will be served. Then you, as the host, return the keys when people leave if you deem the driver safe. If not, you call them a cab. If Nana won't get in a cab because she doesn't know the driver, no problem - she can spend the night in your guest room, or she can walk. Don't get into lengthy arguments with her. Just explain her options, give her a chance to decide, and then tell her good night, start turning off lights and head for bed. When she sees that she's NOT getting her keys, she'll make a decision. It goes without saying that you've put the keys in a secure place where she can't get to them! I was at a dinner party once where a determined and angry inebriated guest snatched his keys off the counter and ran out the door in spite of the host's insistence that he was NOT fit to drive!
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to DesertGrl53
Report

Suggest that someone would be GLAD to pick her up for a starter. This is the point in time where the “lean in” or the “lean out” starts. Someone steps forward, while others fiddle around with excuses.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to GAinPA
Report

Next time, either take her keys or call the police as soon as she leaves.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to gladimhere
Report

She lives in a suburb and has access to all kinds of alternative transportation but won't consider it. We have said that if she gets her eyes fixed, driving wouldn't be such an argument. My other grandma was talking to her. The other grandma said that the blind spot in one of her eyes is huge (from a stroke) and she gave up driving. She said it sucked to give up some independence but she wasn't going to chance someone getting hurt. Did my grandmother with the cataracts listen? No, couldn't be bothered to. Driving is a privilege and not a right. At this point, I hope that she just gets pulled over at night and she gets her driver's license taken away.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Evermore99
Report
cak2135 Jan 7, 2019
I had a horrible fall in 2011 which resulted in my left hand and arm shattered. I had to have surgery, and a plate was inserted to keep everything together. The same thing happened in 2014 when my right wrist was broken, and I had to have surgery and a plate inserted to keep everything together. It sucks to have to give up some independence but I have buses that will take me anyplace I like. As far as my sight is concerned, I can see well at night. I gave up driving but I would like to return to the road; just resort to daylight driving only and in my own neck of the woods
(0)
Report
Hi Evermore, I ran into that situation with my Dad. After not driving for several years, he decided he was going to drive again [Dad was in his 90's]. That was a major button which would get me so very upset with Dad, because he was smart enough to know better.

I even tried "therapeutic fibs" like saying if he were in a serious accident, where it was his fault, that he and Mom would lose all their life savings, and maybe even lose their house.... was that worth taking Mom to the grocery store because there was a sale on bread???

Dad and I would go around and around on that subject, which stressed me to no limits. I even recommended hiring a taxi, but no way would Mom ride in a car with a driver she didn't know [sigh].

During this phase of our parent or grandparent trying to keep whatever independence they have left, it won't be easy. If we take away the car, that means we need to substitute another means of transportation.

I was that transportation, but that also meant taking time off from work to drive them to 3 different grocery stores, and Dad wanting to go to Home Depot to roam around the store for an hour and at checkout all he had was one light-bulb.... [another sign]. Ok, it did get him out of the house so he enjoyed it.

Growing old isn't easy.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to freqflyer
Report
moecam Jan 6, 2019
When my mom wanted to drive again then I told her it would cost a lot of money so she said that the test wasn't expensive so I responded 'it is the cost of all those radio ads to warn everyone else to get off the road' .... she said 'so you don't want me to drive' & I said 'NO' - she abandoned the idea soon afterwards
(5)
Report

Ask a Question

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter