True story: Last time I visited my parents, my stepdad told me that he had failed the vision test at a recent opthomologist's appointment. However, his pupils had been dilated so he was going back the next week to take the test again. Here's how the conversation went:
Me: "So you think you'll pass this time?"
SD: (Sadly) "Probably not."
Me: "They'll take away your license." (This is a major concern, as their house in north Florida is not walkable to anything.)
SD: "I know." Deep sigh. "And I hate driving without a license."
My mom is a little better, but her reflexes are shot and she shouldn't be driving either. They're also starting to do things like leave the toaster oven on all day and forget where they put the car.
I've read and substantially agreed with "Being Mortal" at my mom's suggestion (it's a terrific book on what aging people want vs. what their loved ones think they want) and I am trying to balance their needs and wants against their safety and, in the case of the driving, the safety of others. But when and how could I step in? I can't force them to stop driving. I've suggested they move closer to me, which they would theoretically like but they have sticker shock when they see housing prices in NJ. (They have the money -- just don't want to spend it.) They are fiercely independent and do everything for themselves. What are the next moves?
deborahg said:True story: Last time I visited my parents, my stepdad told me that he had failed the vision test at a recent opthomologist's appointment. However, his pupils had been dilated so he was going back the next week to take the test again. Here's how the conversation went: Me: "So you think you'll pass this time?" SD: (Sadly) "Probably not."Me: "They'll take away your license." (This is a major concern, as their house in north Florida is not walkable to anything.)SD: "I know." Deep sigh. "And I hate driving without a license." My mom is a little better, but her reflexes are shot and she shouldn't be driving either. They're also starting to do things like leave the toaster oven on all day and forget where they put the car. I've read and substantially agreed with "Being Mortal" at my mom's suggestion (it's a terrific book on what aging people want vs. what their loved ones think they want) and I am trying to balance their needs and wants against their safety and, in the case of the driving, the safety of others. But when and how could I step in? I can't force them to stop driving. I've suggested they move closer to me, which they would theoretically like but they have sticker shock when they see housing prices in NJ. (They have the money -- just don't want to spend it.) They are fiercely independent and do everything for themselves. What are the next moves?
OMG, this is our story with my father-in-law and his partner. He's 92 years old (she's 90) and they live in a home they love but which is almost unlivable without driving a car. We're trying so hard to support them but the driving is making us crazy.
No good answers. Somehow I managed to guilt trip my mom into giving up driving after she had an accident involving her car and a stone (rural) mailbox. I said something like "Mom, what if that had been a child?" She never drove again, but regularly berated me for making her stop driving. Of course, I was in NJ and she was in Texas, so ...
As you stated, the problem is that most of us live in places that don't have decent public transportation. I have a few older friends who have learned to love Uber, but I'm not sure if that's for everyone.
EBennett said:As you stated, the problem is that most of us live in places that don't have decent public transportation. I have a few older friends who have learned to love Uber, but I'm not sure if that's for everyone.
My in-laws, similar to Deborah's parents, are reluctant to spend money. Like, ever. They have money. They know it costs money to keep/maintain/drive a car. But the act of spending money on services is a no-go zone, however irrational. (Yes, they have a depression-era mindset)
In our case, I think we're going to pay for the available "senior taxi" services in advance (with our money), give the service as a gift, and see if they will use it. I suspect if we (and eventually they) pay a set amount each month (up front), the cost might prove less of a barrier.
Will report back.
Rather along the lines of what sac reported, there were two events that finally induced my FIL to quit driving: (1) he went over a curb and incurred several thousands of dollars damage to his car's suspension and (2) shortly after that his NY drivers license came up for renewal. When he found out he couldn't renew it by mail and had to go back to Brooklyn to renew it (yeah, he no longer had a NY residence, but that didn't ever factor into his mind as a reason renewing was no long possible), he finally gave up and quit driving. There are many tales I could relate about why we knew he shouldn't have been driving.
It helped that he was then living with us so we could take him the few places he needed to go--or, he could take a cab or limo. (I will share part of one story about his driving. After he first moved in with us he drove to South Jersey to visit my SIL. On his return he could not find our house. He got close, but missed home multiple times because the landmark he used to identify our corner was a sawhorse that temporarily had been placed in front of my neighbor's home on the corner. Of course, the sawhorse was no longer there. I had to stand in the middle of the street and flag him down!)
Sorry I don't have any other insights into how to help you. It does make it somewhat easier when elderly parents are nearer so that you can assist when help is needed.
It may be best to start the talk about moving instead of driving. Point out that while they can drive now, they won't be able to forever. My mother in law can still drive, but she lives in White Plains where she can get by fine without driving.
In NJ, the insurance co can request a drivers retest from d.mv. Police might also be able to do so but I am less sure about that.
Contact the m.v.c. In the state of residence to learn their requirements.
God help us if he is willing to drive without a license
My mother had a couple of sobering run-ins with curbs, trees, snowbanks and the like, and she mostly gave up driving. Yet she didn't tell us, and she wouldn't accept offers from friends to drive her places or pick up groceries or any of that (pride + declining ability to make good decisions) so she became a bit of a shut-in. It's really hard to know what to do when they don't want to admit it's becoming dangerous.
I like the idea of pre-paying for a driving service for them. Will they accept it in the spirit intended or be offended? Either way, I say try it. I would also do what Tom suggests and keep leaning on the idea of moving them closer to you. The Depression mindset is tough, but easier than major hospital stays and lawsuits. Push gently.
We have a difficult situation coming up with my MIL. She moved back to Puerto Rico to the village where she grew up after her kids were out of the house, married and established. But the extended family she used to have there has mostly died out, and she is lonely and in need of help. Her health is a concern, and the house seems to need repairs all the freakin' time. With the economy of Puerto Rico in the toilet, selling the house seems next to impossible, but if it were up to me, I'd say put it up for sale and wait it out. I think she just doesn't want to deal with it and especially she hates the idea of moving back to the northeast. She hates the cold weather.
I have no idea what we can do about this mess. But I hate it that my inheritance and my BIL and SIL (who are supporting two kids in expensive colleges) are paying to shore up this awful house that's become an albatross around our necks.
I suspect he has no problem with it.
The one boundary I have successfully set is that neither I nor any member of my family will ride in the car when they are driving. Either we rent our own car or I drive one of theirs. This rule went into effect on our last visit, when my mother drove us a mile to the Wal-Mart in a torrential downpour and it emerged that she didn't know how to use her windshield wipers.
She was shocked -- shocked! -- and hurt when I announced that I wouldn't ride with her or my SD anymore, but I've continued to insist on it "Because I'm uncomfortable being in the car when they are driving" and they've reluctantly agreed.
My fathers mother was very easy going. The discussion was something like "Ma, you're a *****ing hazard. Keep the car if you want but you can't drive it." So there it sat outside her window.
My mothers parents were much more difficult. My grandfather drove until he died (not driving at the time). Then my mom got my grandmother to move somewhere less car-dependent and she "decided" she didn't need a car.
Tom_Reingold said:It may be best to start the talk about moving instead of driving.
Another no-go zone for my in-laws. My father-in-law would much prefer death to moving (I can completely respect this decision, if only they's accept some help.)
Tom_Reingold said:Point out that while they can drive now, they won't be able to forever.
What, when he's 93? My 2 folks are already in their 90s and quite frail, but they are still saving for a rainy day and thinking about using support services "if the time comes when they really need it".
When I moved my 90 year old mom here to Winchester Gardens from Texas, the problem solved itself, she sold her car to help with moving expenses. I was very lucky, in that she was still driving in Houston, and not well, I might add! Good luck with this.
When my grandmother was in her 80s she hit a man and killed him. She should not have been driving. It was beyond tragic. Fast forward to my father in his late 70s...to his credit he recognized that his reflexes were going and that his eyesight was not as strong so he stopped driving on highways, at night, etc. We all knew why: the thought of killing someone's mother, father, child, grandchild scared the bejeezus out of him. Please try to talk to them about their responsibility to the world - especially to other grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren who do not want to mourn the loss of a family member if they are hit by a car.
I had a friend whose father would not stop driving, even without a license. Father bought a new car and had it delivered. Son saw him and was beyond upset, as he should be. Son removed the steering wheel. As far as I know, the car is still in the driveway, undriveable.
@shestheone, that's heartbreaking. And yes, I live in fear of it. A car is a weapon. I hope to God I will remember that when it's time for me to give up my keys.
Thankfully, my Mom never got a license and while it used to be burdensome to haul her all over creation, what a blessing that we never had to have this conversation. My buddy dealt with it by disconnecting the battery cables so his 93 year old mom couldnt start the car and telling her it needed repairing,which just never seemed to happen.Losing that independence is never easy and at some point logic doesnt cut it. Good luck
My grandmother drove long after she should have stopped driving. Nothing my mother said or suggested had any impact. Fortunately she lived in a very rural area of Ohio and drove back roads. She drove slowly. Everyone knew her, and would pull off to the side of the road when they saw her coming. It's a miracle that she didn't hurt anyone
I'm afraid I draw a tough line on this....
If you won't ride in their car, it is time to get them off the road. Period. Protect the lives of others the way you protect the lives of your family.
So set up the car service, the grocery delivery, and teach them to use Amazon Prime for shopping (if you can't get them to move up here without a car).
Then do something to separate them from the car. It may involve reasoned discussion, "lost" keys, or (as other have said) sabotage of the car, and (if needed) collusion with a mechanic to make sure the repair never gets done.
Figure out what you would WISH you had done if one of them kills someone, and do it now. If you can do it in a way that respects their dignity, that is wonderful, but get the job done.
Good luck! Saying it is necessary is not the same as saying it is easy.
I had a hard time with my Dad but once I pointed out it was going to be cheaper to use a car service once a week vs the cost of owning the car (insurance being the largest cost) he agreed.
The key is for all of us to remember this when our kids are trying to get us to give up our cars... and plan accordingly.
mikescott said:The key is for all of us to remember this when our kids are trying to get us to give up our cars... and plan accordingly.
Funny (well, not "funny") you should say that. My mother has already made it known that she'd like to move into a "little old lady apartment" like the one where my nana lived. Next door to a grocery store, shuttle service to the maplewoodish downtown, train across the street. Hopefully it plays out as easy as it sounds when the time comes.
Don't be so sure that elderly persons' licenses won't be renewed because their vision isn't what i shouold be. When I went to renew my license a few months ago--I'm almost 73--I didn't have to take an eye test. Fortunately, my vision is still fine. There was an elderly man in line in front of me, who kept saying "Where is my wife, I can't find her," when his wife was standing right next to him, waving her arms and talking to him. He didn't have to take an eye test, either, and he got his license renewed. Drive defensively in New Jersey.
Susan1014, I agree with much of what you say. But do I really have that right? My cousin is an alcoholic, and could easily be involved in a drunk driving accident. Do I have the right to pour out his whiskey or take his keys? The neighbors yell at and maybe hit their kids, enough that it could be damaging. Should I try to have the kids taken away?
I really don't know the answers. I don't own my parents and I don't know if I can make their decisions for them. They think I'm overreacting. I think I'm not, but we won't know for sure until/unless something awful happens. It's a scary choice either way.
Age itself is not a reason to stop driving, and familiarity with the neighbourhood helps. I have a client about to turn 100years old (in November) who only stopped driving locally last year, and that's because he and his doctor were arguing about it long enough for the licence to expire.
Often the best thing you can do is to arrange for a seniors driving test with a driving OT (occupational therapist). If the individual can still drive but needs to make some accommodations for safety (in style, in habits, to the vehicle etc), the OT will know whereas an ordinary tester won't necessarily know anything beyond the basic law. Your insurer or car club will usually have a contact for this, or ask a carers' group SAGE, Alzheimer's (even if clear thinking isn't a problem) or Home Instead for a referral.
It's surprising how an extra year of limited driving can prepare someone to change their views and plan for greater independence with a little support.
Does this exist inthe U.S., Joanne? Not that my parents would be willing to do it, but I would certianly give it a try. Not sure how you compensate for blindness and deafness, though.
Try the link JJ suggested, or else try whoever insures their car, or a seniors car insurance company. I have to take D to the station, when I get back I'll search for you if you like. I remember discussing this some years back and finding something not too pricy, I think JTA knew of a place through her connections.
My FIL kep driving long past his optometrist telling him to stop (in part because he hit the optometrists office with the car on one visit). He still insisted on driving in daylight. Then he got delayed one day, and had to drive home at dusk. He hit a parked car. He didn't think there was any damage, so he continued home.
He was seen, so the police came to his house, and took his license away. He insisted that he would take the test again, but eventually as the date got closer, he recognized that he could no longer pass, so he gave it up. At that time my MIL was still driving (locally only), so they were OK.
Unfortunately, seniors sometimes stop driving only when they're involved in an accident, the way people get a health scare and stop smoking. Once we got wind that my father with his bad eyes was relying on my mother to tell him what was going on on the road, that was it. My brother took a very hard line and said he had to stop driving, no ifs ands or buts. It was very hard. My father loved to drive and loved his Cadillacs. He even got a plaque from Cadillac to put on his front grill that said he was a cadillac owner for 50 years. It was a sad day when that red cadillac was driven away.
That's what I worry about with my mother. She's thrilled that her new car tells her when she's crossing the median, needs to slow down, or is veering off the road. It doesn't seem to occur to her that if she needs a steady stream of instruction to stay on the road, it might be time to quit.
Aha! Here's the kind of info I was referring to! the costs are comparable to ours, and there's even an online, self-paced test someone could do at home if they're IT competent. (We didn't let D's parents know about that option until they knew about the tester-in-the-car option, so they couldn't pretend to have done it)
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