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My dad, driving

23 replies

IrnBruTortie · 29/12/2019 21:09

Ok, this is prompted by another post, but is something I’ve meant to post for a while for advice. I’m deliberately posting in AIBU because I don’t want any soft-soaping, but need to know what to do, thanks.

So a year or so ago my dad was (as a result of another medical crisis/procedure) diagnosed with rapid onset dementia (not sure if that’s quite the right term, but he’s only late 60s, and declining fairly quickly). At the time he said he thought his driving days were over. However he is continuing to drive, including giving my DSister lifts early morning, late at night, on busy motorways and town centres. Before this diagnosis he had said he felt his night vision wasn’t great and was going to stop driving in the dark.

He is still driving. I’ve tried to talk gently to him, but actually I don’t think he can engage with the conversation. My mum still wants (needs?) him to drive and won’t entertain any suggestion of him giving up. FWIW, for various reasons it’s difficult to have these conversations with them.

An example of his current cognition is that we had a (phone, always more difficult) conversation where he was talking about my 3 children, when I realised he genuinely was including the dog in the number (I was a little confused until he asked how ‘Fido’ was getting on at school).

A few weeks ago I asked some police in the town centre what I could do, but they said ring his GP and they’ll do an assessment. But a few years ago they moved to about an hour away from me, and I don’t know who their GP is. I’ve tried looking for medication when I’ve been round to see if there’s details on that, but no joy.

Is there no where else I could report him to without GPs details? I know if he caused an accident he would be devastated, and I need to try and prevent that. Talking to him a lot of the time is like he’s half asleep.

What can I do? Thanks.

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

38 votes. Final results.

You are being unreasonable
You are NOT being unreasonable
Strangerthingshere · 29/12/2019 21:12

Could youphone the DVLA and ask for advice?

SlackerMum1 · 29/12/2019 21:13

You can report directly to the DVLA. Dementia is a legally notifiable condition if it’s been diagnosed.

ALLMYSmellySocks · 29/12/2019 21:16

As PP have said DVLA is the best bet. Well done for doing something OP it's hard but the right thing to do, you'd never forgive yourself if he killed someone. It'll be hard for your DM and Dsis but they'll need to start adapting sooner or later.

CMOTDibbler · 29/12/2019 21:16

You can report him directly to the DVLA online here

mummabubs · 29/12/2019 21:17

It's a really difficult position for you all to be in- it's a topic I have personal and professional experience in. Ultimately he has a duty to report his diagnosis of dementia (young onset dementia?) to the DVLA. They will then invite him for a driving assessment. Some people may have some subtle memory problems but still have enough cognitive skill in other areas such as attention and speed of processing information to remain safe to drive for the time being, until he's been for assessment however he's not going to know this. His insurance is likely to be invalid if he doesn't inform the DVLA (not sure if he or your mother would be aware of this?)

I honestly appreciate it's incredibly difficult for them to consider a day when your dad is unable to drive, however it will be more difficult for them if he is unsafe and caused harm to himself or someone else. X

JaceLancs · 29/12/2019 21:20

Does it actually stop him driving safely
DM was diagnosed with Alzheimers a while ago - we informed DVLA
She is still driving - if I felt she wasn’t safe I would take the keys myself but both DB, her GP and I feel she’s ok at the moment
DM will not drive in the dark, will only go to places she is familiar with and has been driving for 50 years so n mainly automatic response
She is not best at parking or spatial awareness but has a car that has lots of cameras and auto functions which helps

Willow2017 · 29/12/2019 21:22

Report to dvla. It's a horrible situation but he needs to be stopped driving before an accident happens.
We had to threaten a relative of mine with doing this before he voluntarily gave up his license. (He didnt have dementia) He was just not safe any more. Once he had stopped driving and got over the fact he was slowing down a bit due to medical conditions and age he admitted his reactions and eyesight were just not good enough anymore.
It's a big deal to admit this and especially difficult if the person has dementia and doesn't fully realise how much they are getting wrong in life in general.
Better safe than sorry.

WhenISnappedAndFarted · 29/12/2019 21:22

Report to the DVLA. I had to do this with my DM, she's epileptic and was still driving but stopped taking her meds so was fitting again. It wasn't an easy decision but I couldn't live with myself if she'd have a fit and killed someone (including herself).

ChristmassySpice · 29/12/2019 21:24

I know which thread you are talking about. And yes, I'd be getting in touch with DVLA in the morning. I would do the same with my Dad (and I'm watching him closely)

1Morewineplease · 29/12/2019 21:24

As above... DVLA will advise you.
GDPR rules may make it difficult to find your father’s GP.
Maybe try and construct a conversation about his general health and just ask where his GP is ? Is he/she in the village/up the road/ round the corner.. then maybe deduce where his GP is.
But definitely seek DVLA advice.

JKScot4 · 29/12/2019 21:25

The time for soft soaping and being nice are gone.
Your DM and DSis are complicit in dangerous driving, your DF should NOT be driving, it’s shocking that they allow it.
Please report to DVLA

My dad, driving
Cherrysoup · 29/12/2019 21:27

DVLA. My bil took my mil’s keys, she went mad, but she was randomly fainting so definitely shouldn’t have been driving.

It’s bloody difficult, it removes their independence and that’s hard, but sometimes absolutely essential.

bettybattenburg · 29/12/2019 21:29

Report to the DVLA, we had this exact situation with my father and had to involve the local police (we weren't in the UK so it's not quite the same set up). It's hard so well done OP.

Rachelfromfriends1 · 29/12/2019 21:40

You’re absolutely doing the right thing by reporting him.

His independence/desire to drive or the convenience for your mum is not more important than someone (or even them!) being hurt or dying as a result of his deteriorating driving abilities

missmouse101 · 29/12/2019 21:44

Please do report first thing OP. It's the right thing to do.

IndianaMoleWoman · 29/12/2019 21:46

Report to DVLA. A colleague of mine was in the same situation, now her dad has an annual assessment. I still find it quite shocking that he is signed off to drive by the GP despite sometimes not knowing who his children are. Dementia is such an up-and-down condition that you could seem fine on the day of assessment, and not know one pedal from the other the next, but that’s the system, I’m afraid.

yellowallpaper · 30/12/2019 19:03

Dementia is a funny thing. Sometimes people can forget the names of their nearest and dearest, but still play Mozart on a violin perfectly. It could,be that driving is so automatic to him, he can do it safely, but I suspect his judgement regarding night driving etc may go off a bit. Discuss with the DVLA

IrnBruTortie · 30/12/2019 19:44

Thanks all.
Thanks especially for the link to the DVLA - I’m normally pretty competent but hadn’t found that, which is in part what led me to asking the police when I saw them in the street. I’ll report (well, my friend has said she’ll do it so if I’m ever asked I can say truthfully I didn’t as it will cause huge ructions I’m sure).

@yellowallpaper , I know, and I’ve been telling myself that for too long. It a week or so ago my dad called in my house before he was supposed to be picking my mum up from somewhere, and he was really confused, like as bad as I’ve seen him. But I hope the muscle memory / instinct is still ok, at least until the DVLA do something - if it is needed. And I should have done something before.
Thank you everyone.

OP posts:
RhymingRabbit3 · 30/12/2019 19:52

Also speak to your sister and ask her to stop requesting lifts from him. If she doesnt drive she needs to learn as she will eventually need to get used to him being unable to drive at all.

TulipCat · 30/12/2019 19:58

Gosh, this is such a difficult issue. Stopping driving is a really big deal for people who are getting too old or infirm to drive. My FIL's car sat undriven on his driveway for three years before we finally managed to persuade him to sell it, because he "thought he might need it" despite being unable to walk unaided and with no feeling in his braking foot. It may take a lot longer than you want, but stick with the gentle conversations. Could you look into other solutions for your mum so she could get behind the cause a bit more?

LunaNova · 30/12/2019 20:16

This is such an emotive issue for all involved. My grandma was diagnosed with dementia in her early 80s and losing the independence of was one of the toughest things she had to go through. It coincided with her getting a new car and the realisation for my mum that she had to do something was when my grandma got in the car and said she couldn't drive it because the gear stick was on the wrong side, it was the exact same car as before!

My mum and dad confiscated the keys and it was a real sore point for a while but quite soon my grandma just didn't remember anymore, which was really sad. We were lucky in one sense that she was in her 80s and we just told her that the DVLA hadn't renewed her licence because of her age, being older was easier for her to come to terms with than the dementia.

It's hard but I think everyone in the family needs to be on board otherwise it's just going to be more difficult for your dad. He needs to be able to give this up for his own health as much as others (he could easily injure himself as much as anyone else), plus the longer he continues the harder it will be to come to terms with losing his independence, plus it's possible that he feels people rely on him for the car and he might want to stop but doesn't want to let people down. If he's still mobile he still has the opportunity to use public transport for independence, whereas my grandma was too frail to do any of that, without my parents being around she would have literally been housebound.

JKScot4 · 30/12/2019 20:52

A couple I know who gave their car up due to declining health have a monthly taxi fund, they still budget the same amount they did for tax & insurance but use it to pay taxis, that way they still have some independence and don’t need to rely on family for lifts all the time.

AnnaMagnani · 30/12/2019 20:59

I reported my FIL to the DVLA. He got a letter saying someone had reported him and asking him for his medical details - he obviously wondered who it was so be prepared to swear blind it isn't you and have some suggestions who it might be! FIL and MIL concluded it might be a nurse they had seen in clinic and I didn't let on that the nurse would have had to tell them she was reporting Blush

Just that was enough for FIL to give up. He went to his GP and the GP told him there and then he had to stop. And that was that.

If his GP isn't as helpful the DVLA have their own processes - his dementia may be so severe it's a ban straight away, or he may be sent to an assessment centre for a test. The test is nothing like your driving test and is both a driving and a cognitive workout - it tests things like whether he can remember a route without getting lost for example so it sounds like he would struggle with it.

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