Dealing With The Issue of Driving
Ask the Experts by Marian Battersby
Q: My family and I are struggling with our elderly father and his insistence on driving. What resources are out there for resolving this sensitive issue?
A: You are correct that the issue of driving when elderly is a sensitive one. Driving a car is a symbol of independence and is closely tied to an individual’s identity. It represents freedom and control and allows senior adults to gain easy access to social connections, health care, shopping, activities and even employment. The loss of this freedom can lead to isolation and depression.
Early candid discussions can establish a pattern of open dialogue. In general, having an attitude of periodic adjustment can be a positive approach. Then the senior can better accept the actual cessation when it occurs. Perhaps daylight only or restricted driving locally is an interim solution. Mediation Attorneys or Case Managers help to navigate these discussions, and work toward a consensus with family members.
Resources in the community include the AARP Safety Program at Services for Older Citizens. The Wilson Center in Grosse Pointe offers an Independent driving simulator. These resources could open the eyes of the senior driver regarding any deficiencies.
If a crisis is occurring, families can request a State of Michigan Driver Evaluation in cooperation with the senior’s physician. It may become necessary to disable the car or take it away. Selling the car takes away the constant reminder that it cannot be used.
Finally, have a plan on how to assist your loved one so they don’t feel deserted. Explore community based transportation. Who in the family can pitch in? Are there church friends or volunteers to assist? Engage the services of a private pay company that can provide services.
Marian Battersby is the Franchise Owner of Home Instead Senior Care, an Accredited Non-Medical Home Care Agency located in Grosse Pointe Woods. She is a Certified Senior Advisor and a Certified Dementia Practitioner. Battersby can be reached at 313.647.9682. Home Instead Senior Care is a member of The Family Center’s Association of Professionals.
Written September 2017
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