One of the most difficult issues that can arise with elderly parents revolves around driving the car, or perhaps I should say ceasing to drive the car.
For a person who has been driving for 60+ years, the car tends to be a crucial symbol of life, living and independence. However, it can also become a very lethal weapon if driving skills are impaired by symptoms associated with failing health.
While there are legal requirements for older people to be medically certified as being fit to drive on an annual basis, situations can arise where family members become aware that a parent’s ability to drive has diminished after a further health setback and that they have definitely reached a point where they are a a danger to themselves and others on the road, even though they may only be driving very short distances to local shops and the like.
In ideal circumstances, the parent will be the person to take the decision to hang up the car keys. If not, the matter has to be taken in hand by the family, either directly or through a third-party, like a family doctor.
Whatever the case, it is crucial to recognise the significance of the car and to identify other means of transport so that the parent doesn’t feel trapped. For example, the point can be made that savings on ‘not driving’ can be used to take taxis for both essential outings and what may be perceived as ‘luxuries,’ like a drive along a much loved stretch of coastline or a trip to visit family or friends.