If there is one issue with which most elders — and their families — will eventually be forced to deal, it is driving. At Support For Home, we see it over and over again with our clients. It is a wheel that keeps being invented, because none of the wheels that have been found so far adequately address the problem.
My father was still driving at 87, in spite of me wishing he was not. My mother, thankfully, had stopped driving a number of years before. For them, as for so many of our seniors, driving (at least by Dad) was an early expression of independence and one they cling to as a senior. Losing that independence is depressing and frustrating.
The “New Old Age” (The New York Times‘ great blog) takes up the subject again today. Jane Gross, the author, relates,
In my many years of reporting about the elderly, I found little that caused doctors more angst than confronting a patient and family about driving. When is it time for someone with physical or cognitive problems to give up the car keys? Who makes that decision? And how can it safely and compassionately be enforced?
Finally, however, there may be some help to families and elders in dealing with this extremely sensitive issue. “The New Old Age” blog points to a new publication from the American Medical Association and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, called “A.M.A. Physician’s Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers” .
It is definitely worth reading, for both medical professionals and families — and seniors. There is no magic wand that I can find in that documents, but there is at least an emphasis on a doctor’s need to focus on this issue just as much as on the chronic conditions with which the elder may be having to deal.
The New Old Age blog also talks about another publication, “Surrendering the Keys: A Doctor Tries to Get an Impaired Elderly Patient to Stop Driving,” byDr. Anna Reisman. In my opinion, it is stories such as hers that will ultimately force other doctors — and families — to face this challenge.
Read through all the links. It will make your head spin a bit, but better than having the tires spin.
Best wishes, Bert