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To old to drive but won't give up

(21 Posts)
deepfriedcupcake Sat 24-Sep-11 09:04:43

FIL is 74 and getting on a bit. He can't walk far and relies on the car to get about. But we don't think he's safe on the roads anymore - his driving has scared us for some time and his reactions have got noticably slow over recent years. MIL can also drive but doesn't like motorway driving - she does a fair bit of daily driving I think.

We insist they visit us by train (they have free passes), but they still make 1-2 hour journeys, inc on the motorway.

DH, BIL and MIL have all talked to him about not driving anymore but the general opinion is that "you'll only seperate him from his keys by taking them from his cold dead hand". I just worry that could be in a multi-casualty pile up.

There aren't any obvious medical reasons for him to stop driving, any suggestions on what to do?

WhoWhoWhoWho Sat 24-Sep-11 09:08:06

I have no idea but will be watching with interest as we are in the exact same situation with my nana. No one will get in the car with her anymore and she will just not accept that she shouldn't be driving. Its really worrying as we don't want her to get injured/killed in a crash but also rather maddening as she could injure/kill somebody else.

deepfriedcupcake Sat 24-Sep-11 09:19:38

It's scary really, but I suspect quite common. I learnt to drive (17 years ago) in a retirement town and the driving instructor said most accidents there were elderly drivers not stopping in time.

I can understand from FIL's perspective - it'll be giving up a huge amount of freedom. Plus there's alot of quiet stubborness in there too.

coccyx Sat 24-Sep-11 09:22:14

Thats awful and selfish. he could kill MY children just because he wants his freedom!. DVLA might be place to go or police

Grumpla Sat 24-Sep-11 09:27:08

If his reaction times are what is worrying you then could you push him persuade him to talk to his doctor about it?

OR sneakily see if he could ask his doctor for recommendations on making it easier to get in and out of the car (this would only really work if he has some sort of mobility problems etc too.)

If the doctor then recommends an assessment at a mobility assessment centre they will assess his cognitive function, reaction times as well.

If he fails the assessment they can't confiscate his licence but would inform his doctor that he was unsafe to drive.

A gentler way of approaching the issue could be to research alternative transport - is there a community bus / subsidized taxis / dial a ride etc in the area?

Many older drivers tend to self regulate (eg avoid motorways, drive only when the roads are quiet etc) but it sounds as though it's something of a pride issue here. If he is able to change his routine gradually rather than all at once it may be easier for him to accept.

I guess you really need to think about how much of a danger he actually is and react accordingly.

eaglewings Sat 24-Sep-11 09:35:03

We have a 93 year old neighbour who insists on driving even though he can't always remember which side of the road he should be on

We have talked to the police and his GP (he has no close family) but we have been told there s nothing they can do

The DVLA really needs to have a better system! Another 90 year old in the village is a safe driver and dad at 76 is safer than many younger people so age is not the deciding factor

Other than refuse your fil coming to visit you if he drives there s nothing much you can do

deepfriedcupcake Sat 24-Sep-11 09:36:57

I like some of those ideas Grumpla, he's a lovely old man who's just getting a bit old and doddery so we'd love to go down the softly softly route if possible.

They are adjusting their lifestyle to suit old age - have moved to a maintained retirement estate etc, but we were just a bit worried after they said they'd driven down to a friend's caravan for the week (via a busy motorway).

I think when we pop down next I'll show MIL some links to look up public transport to get there instead, and check if there are buses near to them to the supermarket.

I don't think he's in imminent danger of causing a crash, but give it a couple of years...

deepfriedcupcake Sat 24-Sep-11 09:42:44

For the really long journeys (like to us) we've persuaded them to take the train - he's a train nut so that's easy. And his last birthday present was a hotel room booked somewhere scenic via big viaducts etc. Might do that again this year.

As far as I can see the DVLA can only respond to a GPs recommendation based on health / eyesight. I so think we should have a driving re-test at some appointed age, plus public transport to take up the masses I suspect would fail.

bigTillyMint Sat 24-Sep-11 09:43:06

My mother wouldn't give up her car. She was 78 and had never been a good driver - I refused to sit in the car with her once I had passed my test at 17 and her driving was a family joke smile

However, she had a mild stroke and was told she could not drive until she was signed off. She immediately asked me to get rid of the car and now gets the bus / taxi as necessary.

Could you persuade him that the money he saves on maintaining the car/tax/petrol, etc could be used on taxi's instead?

deepfriedcupcake Sat 24-Sep-11 09:56:47

MIL is still fine at driving so I don't think they'd give up the car yet, but thinking about it, they do quite like taxis - will catch one rather than cross London on the underground.

I don't know if FIL giving up and relying on MIL would be quite hard for him to swallow, will look into mobility scooters a bit so he can at least pop into town / to the paper shop.

HaveALittleFaithBaby Sat 24-Sep-11 10:25:02

Tbh it's not about age as much as frailty. A doctor can make a recommendation that he should stop driving (frailty, slow reaction times etc) but it is his responsibility to contact the DVLA. Mobility scooter may help but just check he's ok driving that! I had a patient who had one I'm an elderly nurse she said 'oh yes I'm fine on my mobility scooter'. Her neighbour pulled me to one side as said 'She uses the mobility scooter but she's blind in one eye...she just drives in a straight line. Regardless of any bends in the road!'. I also had a patient who drove himself up a wall in one hmm Su yes test drive may be wise.

catsareevil Sat 24-Sep-11 10:37:20

You can contact the DVLA and let them know that you have concerns. They may be able to request that he undergoes assessment, or at least advise you further on the best way forward.

Fenouille Sat 24-Sep-11 11:08:29

We had a similar problem with my granddad. Dad and Aunt sold his car when he went in for a hip op and did the sums to show that taking taxis to go shopping and out to his clubs would be cheaper than running a car. He wasn't happy but as they lived in the town centre it wasn't a huge problem. For outings they went on coach tours.

I can see that I'm going to have the same problem with my Dad reasonably soon. he keeps complaining that they're thinking of bringing in laws to force a retest at 70 or whatever it is as he's an amazing driver (so why is he worried about it? hmm ) until I remind him about Granddad.

I did see that France is introducing a EU driving license which will need renewing every 15 years. Don't know if that means a retest or not, but i suppose it would then be easy to introduce a retest at any renewal post-70.

deepfriedcupcake Sat 24-Sep-11 11:51:32

Crikey HaveALittleFaithBaby, I wouldn't any to unleash someone like that to the roads! Maybe I'll see if he could do a test drive.

I've just found this useful advice sheet so might follow up a few of the organisations on there.

We'll see them in a few weeks so will have a chat and see what we can persuade him to try, and maybe even get him to accept that he'll have to give up at somepoint.

DeWe Sat 24-Sep-11 13:15:33

My grandad was like this in his 80s. Problem was that he was disabled so the car was his only way out to do things he needed/wanted to.
He had an accident on the way back from an evening out where he hit a (luckily) parked car and swerved into a wall. He later said he hadn't even seen the car. Luckily he wasn't badly hurt and no one else was involved.

The police took his licence much to dm's relief, but he nearly got it back several times, and (unknown to him) dm managed to block it.

Highlander Sat 24-Sep-11 15:37:49

There was a TV programme about this a couple of years ago. One thing to remember is that cars, roads and speeds have changed considerably since your elderly relative learned to drive. They may simplybbe lacking in skills and confidence in modern cars and on modern roads.

I can't remember if there is an organisation that will assess elderly peoples' skills, or whether you get a sympathetic driving instructor to do it.

wicketkeeper Sat 24-Sep-11 18:42:48

My father is 75, so I sympathise. Did you know that Saga can arrange a free driving assessment for your Dad (not sure if he would have to be a member?)? He just basically needs to drive the instructor around (in his own car) for an hour. The instructor then gives an informal assessment of the driving. They don't have the power to stop your Dad from driving, but would perhaps give some useful pointers re things he should/shouldn't be doing. My Dad - and the rest of us - found it very reassuring and confidence-boosting (although he's now decided that he prefers not to drive in the dark).

Looking at the bigger picture, I do think that there's a place for a 'restricted' licence (eg no night-time driving, no motorways) - I know if and when my DF has to give up his car it will mean a huge lifestyle change for them, and that will be such a shame.

deepfriedcupcake Sat 24-Sep-11 19:11:18

Thanks wicketkeeper, I'll look into the Saga assessments, still looking into whether RoSPA do something too. Would be quie happy to pay a little for the peace of mind - glad to hear your Dad found it useful and knows what he is / isn't comfortable with, sounds like it might be a good way forward with DHs Dad too.

hiddenhome Sat 24-Sep-11 22:39:09

My dh was almost killed this year when an elderly driver drove straight into him at speed after failing to give way at a roundabout. The car was written off. Thankfully dh is okay, but if he'd been driving my Ford Ka I doubt very much he'd still be here.

You should contact his GP and the DVLA.

bigTillyMint Sun 25-Sep-11 10:10:18

That Saga "test" sounds like a really good idea.

Hiddenhome, thank God your DH is OK

deepfriedcupcake Tue 27-Sep-11 21:26:45

Hiddenhome, glad your DH is okay, that sounds quite scary. Will have a chat with a GP friend - she knows him (thugh isn't his GP) and would be quite pragmatic about what options ther might be.

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