Time to give it up- Seniors driving

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I put this under the safety thread, but maybe you'd like to move it Melissa.

Here's the situation: My husband's gramma just turned 88. Hearing impaired, sight in only one eye, arthritic knees. She lives in the city and drives to Mass EVERY day. Drives to the cemetary EVERY day. Drives to the grocery store EVERY day. She is NOT a slow driver. She doesn't realize how heavy her foot is on the pedal.

Recent history: She has driven over 20 miles with 2 rear flat tires and didn't realize it. She has backed out of the garage without opening the overhead door. She had an accident last year, making a right-on-red without stopping. She drove to church via one-way streets, got to church and realized that her purse was gone. Remembered that she placed it ON TOP of the car, so she drove back home going the wrong way on the one-way streets looking for the purse. This past spring, she had a hit & run accident leaving the grocery store, she hit another car and admits that she panicked and drove home without stopping. The other driver followed her. We are thankful that no one has been hurt.

Because of family members, (so & so knows so & so) the police have just given her warnings. Family members all say "we have to do something", but nobody is doing anything. Nobody want to take the responsibility of driving her where she wishes to go, when she wishes to go. She is a very demanding person and will NOT listen to others, and does not want to give up any independance. I am afraid that she will be injured or injure someone else and be sued. Then the family will decide to do something, but it would be too late. The family says "She's so lucky." Well, who would you want to be on the road with? A lucky driver or a skilled driver?

Has anyone else dealt with this? Did you have to get the DMV and police involved? What worked for you? I am just the granddaughter-in-law, so I'm not quite sure how my suggestions would be accepted, but it's worth a try, for everyone's safety. Thanks

-- chickadee (chickadee@treetops.com), April 24, 2002


Depending upon the area, I would start with her doctor, then go to DMV and the police. Of course, you are also going to have to take the car at some point, and I don't know if you can get restrictions on her ID saying "do not allow to buy a car". You might also want to check if there is someone in your area who deals with senior issues.

You are to be commended for caring enough to look into this, and the rest of the family should be ashamed of themselves. You might want to tell them that the suing won't stop at Grandmother--if they look up her driving record in court, and realize that all the immediate family members could have done something long ago, you better belive other parties are going to come after them too. Good luck.

-- GT (nospam@nospam.com), April 24, 2002.

Yep! I'm going through the exact same thing except its my husbands grandfather and to make matters worse(in a way) he's NOT had any problems (wrecks) YET!!!! So that makes it even more difficult. But its just a matter of time-he's deaf and arthritic and other problems.

Its really difficult becuase, yes, folks want their independence but, you want them to be alive for that independence. What we do-and its working somewhat is address these things on a by need basis. For example-I ALWAYS call up and say I'm going to the Grocery, library pharmacy, what can I pick up/drop off for you-this has eleimanted a few trips to town. Does anyone else live close by that can give your G.Grandma a lift to Mass? Could they "just happen to drive by the house and would like to share a ride?" We arranged for someone in the community to drive Grandpa to his Ham Operators meetings once a month, because the other guy was going anyway. Grandpa will let my hubby drive him to some places that he won't let me drive (its somesort of macho thing)but latly he's coming around. If I take my car, I drive always. He dosn't have a problem with that. His car.....Sometimes I say, Do you mind if I drive-the drivers seat is more comfortable (or something)yes its lying but he can save face and we get there in one piece-or I'll split up the driving chores-He can drive the parkway (reletivly deserted and safer) I'll drive in the city. I have actually taken the keys away-he had dialated eyes from the optomitrist and wanted to drive!!!!!!yes, I got my ears blistered on that occasion, but no one was killed and fortuantly, the family backed me up. Talk to your whole extended family and see who can take her when. Good luck!!!!

-- Kelly (homearts2002@yahoo.com), April 24, 2002.

Chickadee---been there/ done that & bought the tee-shirt about 5 times with different family members----& am about to have to do it with my own Mother now-----

My sister is incharge of all my mother's business-- etc/etc/etc/etc/etc/---long story-----but My mother is going to kill some one if I don't step in---

My Mother-in-law/ my hubby just had to step in & take her car & keys & sold the car-----but he was in charge of all her business matters--- so it was easier----you will have to find out /who in the family is also/ on all her business affairs--- & get that person to act on the situtation!!! The sooner the better!!!

My MIL had many accidents----drove up the sidewalks---etc/etc/etc/--- when we talked to the police--they couldn't take her lic away--- etc/etc/etc/-

It can be a sticky matter----if no one in the family has been assigned as co/signer with business matters- etc---someone in the family will have to seek legal council to make decisions for her-----

I have made up my mind now---& already told my daughter --if & when I should not be driveing---come & tell me & I will turn over my keys!!!! Our kids name is on our insurance--- & when we go to visit them in the city--- I give my daughter /my keys & ask her to drive--she knows the town better & her reactions are faster than mine---

Chickadee----this is a real problem---find out who in the family is in charge of legal decision makeing for this person & then put pressure on them to do something & help them to do what needs to be done---if you are close enough to volunteer to drive grannie a few places take your turn!!!!! Encourage other family & friends to drive her!!!!! Before it is tooo late---

-- Sonda in Ks. (sgbruce@birch.net), April 24, 2002.

For the most immediate results is go out and remove the coil wire, coil or the rotor from under the distributor cap, anything so her car will not start. Then start offering her rides everywhere she needs to go. Pay her mechanic to NOT fix the car. (Missing coil wire goes undetected by a lot of mechanics)

Is her driver's license still valid? Have a talk with DMV. Most states have a program for taking care of this problem. Many of these old people go ahead and drive WITHOUT a license so disabling the car has to be part of the plan.

My parents went through this with my grandparents and I am still about 10 years away from this with my parents.

-- Laura (Ladybugwrangler@hotmail.com), April 24, 2002.

We used to have some 90-something neighbors. He was seen in his car, on the ICE trying to back out of the driveway one day, and if he was moving that car would have been going about 20 mph backwards! It wasn't long after that his next door neighbors (friends of ours also) spoke to his son, who simply had it arranged that when his driver's license expired he was unable to renew it!

Talk about some ears being blistered! They stood firm, though, and the DMV agreed. No more license. Maybe you could arrange this? If you tell them the situation, it might be easier than you think! Maybe even anonymously - call a tag agency and ask the agent, they should know.

-- Christine in OK (cljford@mmcable.com), April 24, 2002.

A couple of disturbing notes. Hearing impared and deaf and arthiric body. Neither of these are cause to keep someone driving.

Ability to control a vehicle, Metal ability to know how to drive?

I had to deal with my grandmother and DW grandfather. Both times it took a hard hand. Disabling the car was the start. Calling the police each time they go out and let them see the problem.

-- Gary (gws@columbus.rr.com), April 24, 2002.

I just got my license renewed, and to my surprize they made me take the test, even driving test again. Something about a new law, that when you hit 70, You will be required to take a test again. Eye and everything. I passed with no problem, Now my husband has cateracts so will have to get them attended to. Although he thinks he is still a good driver, but I think he drives to fast. Since we live in no mans land, I am happy we can still drive.

-- Irene texas (tkorsborn@cs.com), April 24, 2002.

Went through it with my Mom. It sure wasn't easy, and to make matters worse, none of us lived close to her to take her places. (We all live in different states). We all got together with her and had a talk, then put her keys in a safe place. We also had talks with her friends who were still able to get around good. She ended up getting out and going to more places with her friends than she did when she drove herself. I don't think anyone takes it well, I know I won't when it's time for me to park it. Hope it works out for you, best wishes.

-- cowgirlone in ok (cowgirlone47@hotmail.com), April 24, 2002.

My parents were broadsided by a carload of teenagers. Their car was totalled, so when my dad was able to drive again, my 88-year-old grandma offered to sell them her car. This was a huge relief to the whole family because everyone wanted Grandma to quit driving, but didn't want to tell her so.

The day she brought the car over, she had the front end aligned. Wanting to make sure the garage people had done a good job, she went out on the freeway, took the car up to 80, and checked to see if the car was "okay". My dad gladly bought the car and the family has been taking turns taking her everywhere.

-- Cathy N. (eastern Ontario) (homekeeper86@sympatico.ca), April 24, 2002.

My family had to go to court and have someone other than a family member become a guardian over my grandfather. He had several wrecks (thankfully, no one was hurt)and then became unable to walk but refused to go to a convalescent center. Even ran off a home health care nurse assigned to him after only one day. Neither my grandmother nor my father were able to care for him at home. The only way to do it legally was for us to go to court, so we did. He did not like it and let us know every day about it but we knew he was safe and well cared for and no one else would be hurt.

-- Billie in W. CO. (bbsowell@earthlink.net), April 24, 2002.

Ok Gary, You are right-being hearing impaired is no reason not to drive-I have a Deaf brother in law who is a good driver-It is really the TOTAL of all the ailments-not being able to look around, the slowing of reaction times, vision is not good. I used to let him drive until one day he said "Darn this double vision!" After that I took the keys.

-- Kelly (homearts2002@yahoo.com), April 25, 2002.

Oh that is so hard! My former MIL hit the back of a school bus when she was 84 ..why? because as she said "I didn't see it." Big yellow thing stopped right in front of her at a stop sign, and she didn't see it? uh oh....despite my fright, my ex wouldn't do anything, the state of Missouri didn't do anything, and it was a miracle she didn't kill anybody while she continued to drive for another 9 years until she decided to quit herself. I know how hard it is to admit you cannot safely drive anymore...I haven't driven in over 6 months now and I miss it terribly, but I'd rather not drive than risk whacking someone because of sudden blurred vision or the fact that I cannot get my foot on the brakes fast enough..it's not fair to everybody else on the road...there are some days I FEEL like I could probably drive down to the local market, but feeling like I could isn't good enough in my book. I miss the independence of just being able to go when I want to, but I wouldn't be able to sleep well at all if I hurt someone else just because I was selfish....a person who has lived long enough should know when it is time to hang up the keys!

-- lesley (martchas@bellsouth.net), April 25, 2002.

I'm in about the same boat with my Mom. She's going to be eighty- three in June and has had some fender benders and a couple of pretty bad accidents in the past few years (all totally her fault). Unfortunately, I've enabled her to continue driving by providing her plates and insurance through my business. Her insurance was going to run her over $200 a month just for PLPD and I thought at the time I was doing a good thing. I'm less sure now.

The last couple accidents were since I've been providing her coverage. Fortunately, no one was hurt but that potential was certainly there and still is. That's my biggest concern. She had promised me years ago that she was only going to drive until she was eighty. Obviously that's not been the case.

I did find out that Indiana, at least, will administer a more complete and comprehensive licensing exam to senior if requested by someone. They don't tell the person how they came to be selected for this "special" test other than "it's administered randomly to senior drivers."

From what I understand it would be a challenge for any of us to pass- not impossible, but challenging. It includes not only a lengthy written portion and road test but also requires a complete physical exam, as well. If you're in Indiana you should be all set. If not, check with someone in the upper levels of your state BMV office (not just the local political patronage employees).

Good luck with this. As you've read, I'm living with your plight in my own life. Thus far, I've lacked the courage to take away Mom's keys. >8-/

-- Gary in Indiana (gk6854@aol.com), April 28, 2002.

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