Oops, moms on the road again – when do we take the keys?

Oops, moms on the road again – when do we take the keys?

Turning back the clock I recall the day my grandmother took her last drive.  She was in her mid-eighties, still living alone and beginning to show signs of dementia.  Our family was in the midst of planning to move her into a memory care assisted living home.  Several weeks earlier I had skillfully borrowed her car and purposely neglected to return the key, not knowing that she had a second one.   We had cautioned her not to drive after several fender-benders, but she was extremely proud and independent.  On this particular day my mother received a call from the police that they had found Nana parked on a side street just 6 blocks from her home totally disoriented.   The police officer took her home and impounded her car.

Currently, I consult with a very active senior lady in her late eighties.  Last year she was approaching the renewal of her driver’s license.  Although mentally she was still very sharp, she had recently had a minor parking lot accident which caused her auto insurance to soar. She lost confidence in her driving ability.   In memory of my Nana I took a proactive stance so we contacted a local driving school to help her prepare for the test and access her driving skills.  With their guidance we researched trading her 10 year old SUV in for a more senior friendly car.  Senior drivers need a car that is easy to get into and out of, with controls that are easy to reach and intuitive to use. Fortunately my lady is now the proud owner of a Subaru Forester, passed her driving test with flying colors and we have devised a 3 year plan which considers all of her options when driving is no longer an option. 

Before you ask for your loved one’s keys it is wise to present them with a plan of how they will manage without a car.  Here are a few ideas:

  1.  Research bus or train routes – most communities offer senior discounted fares.
  2. Uber or Lyft can be convenient options – supply a smartphone if they don’t have one already.
  3. Pick a day of the week that you or another friend or family member is available to drive them around to do errands, appointments or just meet up with friends.
  4. Consider services like Amazon Prime and grocery and pharmaceutical delivery options.

After researching these options, you will be better equipped to respond to your senior’s claim that they have to drive.

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