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Elderly parents

Driving help and advice for grandfather....

9 replies

DevonLulu · 20/05/2013 21:08

I have been increasingly concerned about my 89 year old grandfather for the past 6 months - cognitive decline, repetition, not coping outside normal routine and becoming more introverted. He lives along, my grandmother died 6 years ago, he has no living children and he is willing the time to come when he can join his wife. Sadly for him he is physically doing ok.

I hold my hands up - I am a GP.

Given my concern about early dementia, I have spoken to his GP and he has been assessed to be suffering with age related changes and not dementia - I feel that this is not a true representation.

He has recently written of his car, being hit whilst stationary by an ambulance. This was not his fault, but I feel that this may be the warning shot and that the next time we may not be so lucky.

He is adamant that he is safe to drive, and I am very concerned that he is not.

I know that according the the DVLA guidance, there is no obligation given his history to revoke his licence. I know that he GP can not stop him driving.

Does anyone know of anywhere in Ipswich where he can have is driving ability assessed by an impartial third party. I feel that his is the next sensible step.

Has anyone else been in this situation and can offer help?

Many thanks

OP posts:
loopydoo · 20/05/2013 23:09

[[ in some aeas the AA assesses the elderly. Check out point ten on the link. There are some useful tips etc.

Theas18 · 20/05/2013 23:21

what difficult dilemma.

could you get no names mentioned advice from the polIice how he could be assessed? bet they'd tell you , or you may maybe have to anonymously report him, get him pulled over and then they will assess him...

has his eyesight been checked recently?

trouble is as you know intelligent, will read people can fool dementia testing quite well for milder problems.

Will appealing to his financial acumen help? this worked with my parents after a bit of a war of attrition. using taxis etc it's almost always cheaper then running a car for the pottering that elderly drivers do.. just make sure you take all the costs into account.

Needmoresleep · 21/05/2013 08:37

One website suggested the acid test is: Would you be happy to let him drive your children?

I assume the answer is no.

However without GP support there is no obvious solution. As Thea suggests there might be an argument that works. He himself might be a bit worried about other drivers or of getting lost so might be happy for an excuse. (My mum signed over her car to my husband as she was worried he did not have the family car whilst I was away taking care of her...) otherwise as Thea again suggests retesting eyesight (a word with the optician first asking them to be as conservative as they can about his ability?), or memory. Could you ask for a scan? Was his memory test done by the GP. Is there scope for a referral to a memory service who may be better able to spot those who can use their memory to compensate.

Good luck. None of us enjoy dismantling someone's independence, but this one is important.

CMOTDibbler · 21/05/2013 08:45

If he agrees, a Driving Assessment Centre will see how he is doing - his nearest would be Colchester I think.

But he does have to agree, and otherwise its very hard to get an intervention

MoreBeta · 21/05/2013 08:57

This is a very difficult situation and one that increasingly will face many of us as our parents reach an age that they should stop driving,

Problem is that our parents are the generation that took up driving in mass numbers and became dependent on cars. Many live in places that are too difficult to use public transport.

FIL only 75 but increasingly we found his peripheral vision and judgement was obviously failing when driving, Same with my father who is only 70. No we would not let either of them drive our children.

Theas idea of appealing to financual acumen is a good one. It did eventually work for us. Me and DW do not drive at all and we were able to explain how much cheaper we find using public transport (ie free bus pass and occassional taxi) is than running a car. FIL did stop partly through ill health and partly through cost before he died.

Father is still driving but only local and my mother has signed up for supermarket deliveries of food and they do use trains and buses a lot now. They live in a rural area but drive to the station and then get on a train rather than drive long distances. They will never give up the car entirely but we can at least minimise it to short local familiar journeys on B roads.

I think a gradual withdrawal of the use of the car and emphasising the financial benefits is the way to go.

whataboutbob · 21/05/2013 21:14

I have no specific advice as I did not really crack this one. My dad has Alzheimers, his driving has always been shocking and at one stage I was getting weekly, horrified phone calls from neighbours and members of his congregation urging me to do something. Not so easy, as he'd scream at me if I suggested he wasn't safe to drive. In the end the inevitable happened, he was too confused to renew his insurance, the DVLA got on to him, their henchmen seized his car and got it crushed (it was a 3rd hand fiat punto). Very upsetting for him, but I took the coward's way out and just let events unfold. I had spoken to his GP (not too sure what he did) and rung the DVLA who sent him a medical questionnaire, which he never filled in. He still talks of buying a car, I just make very non committal noises and hope he never does. there'd be nothing to stop him buying one of those cars with a for sale sign on the window , and driving off (into a lorry/ ambulance or god forbid, a pram).

DevonLulu · 22/05/2013 19:01

Thank you to all for your help and advice

He has found a new car via his neighbour who works in a car garage - the neighbour rang me to check that it was ok to go ahead and arrange the sale as did not want to 'put him back on the road without my approval'.

I have rung a driving instructor, who is willing to undertake a 2 hour refresher lesson in my Grandads new car, undertaking and informal assessment at the same time. This I hope will smooth the transition from old to new car and give an objective opinion.

Horrible phone call with Grandad last night - he is very angry and feels I am interfering, meddling and wants me to leave him alone. My conscience can not. I shouted back, shocked him and we have nearly agreed to the above plan.

The neighbour is delaying the car sale until I get Grandad to agree

I feel terrible. I want him to remain independent if he is safe to do so, and do not want to trick him or catch him out. I am genuinely concerned. Not sure what other options there are.

OP posts:
whataboutbob · 23/05/2013 18:22

I think there are no ideal options. you have been very brave in tackling it and involving your grandad. I tried to, but couldn't take the abuse when i tried to convince Dad he wasn't safe to drive, and so, not least because I've been in counselling to help me cope with having a parent with dementia, i decided to protect myself and just not "go there" anymore with the whole topic. Having contacted GP and DVLA and tried to raise it with Dad, plus not assisted him in renewing his car tax, I feel I've done my socially responsible bit. Dad's home support team told me they have several clients who drive and shouldn't be. That to me suggests there is no simple way of stopping an elderly, non competent driver from stopping.

whataboutbob · 23/05/2013 18:23

I mean of course " from driving".

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