When is it time to stop driving??

senior_drivingThis is such a sensitive issue but one that I’ve been thinking about a lot.  When is it time for someone to surrender their drivers licence?  I’ve done some reading on it and here are two articles in case your interested in reading them. 

Me myself, I know I won’t be driving forever.  I can’t really drive at night now and if it’s raining, snowing or foggy, I have a really hard time.  This was one deciding factor as to why I’m not bowling this year.  I can’t see right and I get paranoid thinking I’ve seen something move that I drive like a snail and I can actually feel it in my heart that I’m scared.  But that’s me and it’s my choice right?  Or isn’t it?

What about a parent who you know probably shouldn’t be driving anymore or at least not for much longer?  What do you do then?  Both of those articles gave check lists of monitoring someones driving but what if you don’t know what they drive like?  What if you are never in the car with them while they’re driving?

I know my mom has trouble with her eyes.  She can see far away but not really close up.  Not the “old age” syndrome but an eye disease.  She has macular degeneration.  She can see some things very clearly but not things like signing a receipt or reading books.  But she can golf and do things like that.  She failed her eye test for renewing her licence this past April so she had to send her ophthalmologist a letter and he had to sign it if it was “in his opinion,” okay for her to drive.  Now I’m thinking the hard part would be done for me but oh no, he signed it.  I asked her what the conditions were thinking that he’d specify that she could only drive during the day with no precipitation or anything like that.  She doesn’t drive at night or when it’s raining or snowing anyway so I thought it would ease her into giving it up all together in the next year. 

When does a person step in and take something away from a parent like this?  Both of those articles stated accidents as a guide but I’d sure hate for there to even be one in the first place before making a decision like this.  What if she really hurt someone or hurt herself? 

My daughter in law Nikki was in the car with her last Sat and she said she’d never do it again.  She drove very “jerky” and one thing that really has us all bothered is she would stop, on a main highway but in a 30 mph speed limit in our small town, to let people who were waiting to get out of the bank or store, and let them out.  Meanwhile she’s stopped dead on a highway.  My thought is she’s lucky to have not been rear ended before now.  I mean really, you can’t just stop to let people out on a highway.  It wasn’t like she slowed down in a yield, she just stopped.

So, how does a person do this gracefully?  How do you take something like this, freedom and independence away from a parent or a loved one?  My mother will not take this kindly.  She’s stubborn and she knows it all.  I know in the end the decision will be left to my brother and I but I hate to hurt her in any way.

Has anyone experienced this yet?  It’s very sad and it’s going to be hard and I’m not sure what’s the right thing to do.  I know all people are different and she’s got all her faculties.  The only problem is her eyes and maybe that’s why she stops.  Who knows?  But I know I don’t want her to hurt herself of anyone else before we think about this seriously.

Have any of you experienced this yet?  Going to have to face it soon?  Any suggestions would be very appreciated.

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9 Responses to When is it time to stop driving??

  1. SKL says:

    I dunno, but I don’t want to be in the position to tell my mom “you can’t do this.” It’s all I can do to say “I ain’t paying for you to do this any more.” My mom doesn’t drive any more, anyway, because the position hurts her back too much. My dad doesn’t have problems driving at this point, and he’s the type who would admit it if his driving got scary. But, it’s hard to imagine my parents always having to beg a ride for the rest of their lives. They are doing it now because my dad’s having a lot of trouble with his shoulder, but I’m sure he hates having to ask.

  2. That is very tough but sometimes things just have to be done. I think it should be a case by case situation. Although then you deal with the issue of being fair.

  3. Tosha says:

    I dealt with this about 6 years ago. After Jewel was born I needed a ride to the hospital to see her and then pick her up from the NICU b/c hubs and everyone else was working my grandmother offered to take me. (was that ever a run on sentence?) I was unable to drive due to having a c section. I hadnt ridden with my grandmother in years. Normally I drive. The experience was anything but pleasant. It was down right scary! I found that she had developed road rage and blamed other drivers for her mishaps. There were so many dangerous things about her driving that at one point I made her pull over and let me drive. She argued that I wasnt supposed to be driving but me driving was safer than her making a 45 minute drive. Around that same time she had also gotten into a car wreck. She was in the turning lane and rear ended a man. She CLAIMED the man had backed into her. I couldn’t grasp the concept that a man had backed into her when he was in the turning lane to make a left hand turn. I spoke to the man and infact he did not back into her. After all this I spoke with my dad b/c I didnt think it was my place to discuss itw ith my grandmother. I spoke to my dad about taking her drivers license. He broke down and spoke to my aunt and uncle who were dead set against taking her license b/c they didnt want to be responsible for hauling her around. They didnt have time. My dad didnt have time. They figured the burden would fall on me and if I wanted her license taken i’d have to step up to the plate. That was not an option as I didnt have a vehicle at the time and I had a newborn baby (plus 2 toddlers in tow).. Anyhow my grandmother was very upset at us for even thinking of taking her license. She was livid to say the least. She was hurt that i’d “do that to her”. But my concern was for her safety and the safety of others. My family gave in and let her keep her license with the understanding that she ONLY drive in town and she isnt allowed to go anywehre when its raining. i’m not sure if its the best idea but she hasnt been in anymore accidents and if she has to drive outside of town someone else always takes her. I know that day is coming when we will have to take her license and I dread it but i’ll handle it like I did before. With her best interest in mind.

  4. starlaschat says:

    I know a lot of people have had to cross this road, it is a tough one. I can not imagine taking the car keys from my Dad. I think I would hide them. Ive seen family deal with this and it is a big step, it’s hard for everyone involved. I’m sorry I don’t really have any advice. Hopefully other bloggers will have some good suggestions. I do think it is one of those life passages of sorts. I remember Navars Aunt saying. When they took the keys from her. ” That there were some things now that she would just have to except.” So probably like a lot of things it just one of those things that may not be easy for anyone involved. I hope you get some good ideas on this. And let me now when, down the road I may need to take the keys from my Dad. That’s hard to even type.

  5. megan says:

    Last weekend my grandmother came to the conclusion – on her own – that she shouldn’t drive anymore. Unfortunately, it was because she had an accident. She thought she was stepping on the brake, but instead stepped on the gas. She went across the median and hit two other cars. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

    My grandparents already restrict their driving to the daylight hours, so we don’t have to worry about them driving at night. But I’m not sure what will happen when they reach a point where they shouldn’t be driving at all. They are way too stubborn to ask for help, so they would want to do everything themselves – even driving. I wish I could offer advice, but I seem to be in the same boat as you – *needing* advice.

    • Joy says:

      I know Megan. This is such a touchy thing. I hate to take her independence away but at the same time, I really worry. I wish at least her eye doctor would have restricted “something” on her license even though she doesn’t drive in any kind of bad weather or at night because it might have really made her start thinking of this on her own.

      I know a lot of people toss out “think if she hurt someone” but this is much deeper than just a flip answer. Thanks for understanding and I’m really glad your grandma wasn’t hurt nor anyone else.

  6. birdpress says:

    Is there any way you could sit down with her and ASK her about whether or not she feels comfortable driving anymore? Maybe you could suggest that you heard of someone else who’s parent had recently given up driving, and say you were wondering how she felt about it. You know, sort of make it “her” idea to stop driving. I think that might be kinder to let it be her decision instead of her feeling like you were making it for her. Not sure if it would work, but it could be a starting point.

  7. Doraz says:

    Joy, I know one day we all have to face this situation, and it is a hard one! Elderly people hold on to so little in life, that it is hard to “take” away what makes them happy. It does help if a doctor agrees with a family decision, but they did not help in this case! I would hope you mom realizes, in her own time, what the right thing is to do. Hopefully she will not hurt herself or others in the process. Stay strong~~~~she needs you!

  8. This is definitely a hard move to make… I believe my mother had a few arguments with my grandfather on this subject. With him, though, it was having an accident and having his license taken away that determined the matter. But he was lucky, and I shudder to think what would have happened if the accident had been more serious.

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