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When Should Mom Give Up The Car Keys?

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When Should Mom Give Up The Car Keys?

This month my mom will be 88 years old. And sitting in the garage of her condo where she lives alone is her huge 2000 Cadillac in mint condition with only 50,000 miles on it.

“Mom,” I said, “how much are you driving your car?”

“I only drive to the grocery store.” Then silence. “And to the post office to mail you cookies, the ones you love.” More silence.

If you have older parents who still drive, you know that’s when it gets awkward. When you wonder, “Is this the right time to step in?” We want our parents to remain independent. But we also want them, and the people around them, to be safe.

As an article in the August issue of Psychiatric Times pointed out, there are 22 million older adults (78 percent) still driving with a valid driver’s license. And with 79.6 million baby boomers out there, those numbers are going to keep increasing.

We all know that with age, we react slower, see less well, and find it more challenging to multitask. Throw in the possibility of mild dementia and Parkinson’s disease and it’s not surprising that drivers older than 80 have the highest rate of accidents of every other group – except teenagers. So like many of you, I’ve got to deal with the car keys of both groups because I have a teenage son. But that’s another blog.

Now I’m not saying that every individual over a certain age should stop driving. Many are excellent drivers. But there are no standardized national guidelines for what constitutes a “dangerous” driver.

Next: Safety tips and helpful ways to assess your parent

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Read more: Aging, Caregiving, Family, Health, Life, Transportation

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Dr. Mache Seibel

Women's health expert and guest speaker Dr. Mache Seibel addresses consumers' critical needs from weight control to HRTmenopause and beyond. He served on the Harvard Medical School faculty for 19 years and is founder of My Menopause Magazine on the Apple Newsstand ( Download the Free App and first Free issue. He works with companies and organizations to bring exciting educational content to consumers. Visit his award-winning website to sign up for his free monthly newsletter.


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12:47AM PDT on Sep 28, 2012

There is a very good article in AARP that gives specific tell tale signs of when to quit driving.

The 3 I remember a. Stopping when there is no stop sign and of course b. running stop signs because you didn't see it or c. being confused at the traffic signal about when its time to turn.

8:43AM PDT on Sep 17, 2012

it's hard

11:21PM PDT on Aug 26, 2012

that's great when someone realizes on their own that they need to give it up...

12:45PM PDT on Aug 19, 2012

taking the keys away from my dad, who by then had advanced Alzheimer's, was devastating for him and my mom. Living half a country away, I hadn't realized how bad he was nor that she was letting him drive so she was not house-bound. Once I visited, I was horrified. I was lucky-- their doctor was alarmed as well and derived a pseudo test for my dad (no structured test was available). I know it prevented my dad from killing himself and my mom (or worse someone else), but the psychological blow was crushing to him. And unfortunately his doctor did not know how to treat the psychological side of Alzheimer's. Still, I strongly advocate talking to your parent's doctor to help if a parent should not drive: get him/her to help. And do get some kind of transportation substitute!

12:08PM PDT on Aug 19, 2012

Some ruthless car salesperson sold anew car to my father in law at age 88. They now have 5 years of car payments on top of it. So how do we broach the subject of him not driving anymore. He has not had an accident yet and is still in god health but is definitely slowing down. I won't let them drive my daughter anywhere anymore. If anyone has a good answer I am open to them.

10:46AM PDT on Aug 19, 2012

I am 65 and I quit driving a few years ago. It was very difficult at first but with planning it can be done. I don't have anyone to drive me to the store so I use the handicap van. I use a power chair so I can run errands that are close. Fortunately I live in an area where there are a couple of stores and pharmacies withing distance. I quit driving because I realized that I was dangerous on the road. I would have moments where I spaced out and when I came out of it had to get my bearings to know where I was. I take many medications and have numerous medical issues. Fortunately there is the handicap van to take me to appointments, even to visit the kids who are close enough and do not drive. I live in an apartment that has minimal assistance provided. There is staff here in the case of anyone needing help. They also do chores that we are not able to do ourselves. In the event I can't get out they will pick up prescriptions as well as grocery shop once a week. I have accepted rides from other individuals who live here and still drive and prayed to get home safely, many are such horrid drivers I will never ride with them again. They refuse to give up driving and I worry that they will kill or maim some innocent person(s) before they give it up. Doctors should have more control over a persons ability to get behind the wheel as far to many have no common sense when it comes to this. Even if I didn't live in this apartment could find help, there are many organizations o

5:56AM PDT on Aug 19, 2012

my father is 89 and still driving every day to his vegetable garden and hens, in fact twice a day he goes there.
He is almost deaf but won't wear a hearing aid, his eyesight is good and he is in good health for someone of 89 years young! But I won't go in the car with him because I consider him to be a dangerous driver now, he has crashed quite a few of his cars and I think he should stop driving but he won't listen to me or anyone of the family and he won't go near a doctor. He is a stubborn old mule,stuck in his ways and won't stop driving until he drops down dead! A typical Yorkshire man. At least he realises that he can't do long distances anymore, thats a start.

9:47PM PDT on Aug 18, 2012

About 5 years ago, when my diabetes had already affected my eyesight to the point where I felt that I would not pass my annual eye test, I have voluntarily surrendered my Driving License. I gave our car and the keys to my son and in return he takes my wife and myself twice a week to any appointments and on shopping trips.

I pay for the running expenses and it still works out cheaper than calling a Taxi would be. And - except for the Unknown Taxi Driver - everybody is happy. And SAFE.

9:43PM PDT on Aug 18, 2012

I'm 65, and quit driving years ago. Luckily I have a daughter who does not mind driving me where I need to go.
I voluntarily quit driving because I have carpel tunnel in both wrists, and my hands would go numb on the steering wheel--not all the time, of course, but any "numb" is bad "numb".
Ive seen and heard of too many accidents where people who should have quit driving, did not (not always age-related).
I do feel for people who would rather not drive any more, yet have no other option. There isn't always public transportation in every city, and when there is, some of them aren't "safe" either.

9:39PM PDT on Aug 18, 2012

it's just irresponsible to allow people to drive when they are 88 years old. What would happen if they killed someone? If your elderly mother is mailing you cookies, maybe it would benefit her to live closer to you so you could help her with her errands.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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