Seniors: Drive at Your Own Risk

May 25th, 2011 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Lunch companions the other day included my ninety-one year old mother and another resident of the assisted living facility where they both live. Among the conversation topics was one that is very dear to the hearts of most seniors. Driving. Clearly, the new resident is still holding out for the privilege. My mother has long since surrendered the task or the desire. Her issues are serious enough that it is matter of safety that she not drive, for her sake and others.

The reason the other woman at our table wants to continue driving is to be able to travel a relatively short distance from the facility to her home every day to feed her cat. You got it. The cat is now at home alone and must be fed daily. The pet owner is obviously devoted to her cat, but may not be so aware of the implications involved.

Driving is one of the most serious and most fiercely defended acts of independence there is for older persons. Reason is often tossed out the window. It is among the hardest of personal behaviors to surrender.

Long before the issue becomes one for confrontation, the matter needs to begin to be discussed. Keeping the tension level low and arriving at the point when rational decision making becomes necessary is the desired goal. Because the issue is so fraught with emotion, it is quite difficult to create an environment in which the ultimate conclusion can be reached. Always keep in mind, you and your parent, that remaining sensitive to respecting safety and risk are the primary demands for ever being in the driver’s seat.

If the discussion can be kept open and the issue reviewed occasionally, the elder may give up the keys more easily when the time comes.  Further, if agreement about the conditions for giving up the keys can be reached at an early stage, the task may be an easier one to achieve.



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