Taking the car keys away from an aging loved one is never easy

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Posted: Monday, February 3, 2014 6:13 pm | Updated: 3:37 pm, Tue Feb 4, 2014.

SARASOTA, Fla. - It is emotional for the family and the person who may feel they are losing independence and control. But the decision whether to drive or not can make the difference between life and death.

"My dad looked into my eyes, reached into his pocket. He gave me the keys to the car as tears were streaming down his face."  Pines of Sarasota President and CEO John Overton told ABC 7 his father unknowingly ran two stop signs while visiting him on vacation, and that is when Overton broached the uncomfortable topic.  "I said 'Dad, why don't we pull over to the side here?'"

His father handed over the keys with tears in his eyes, but it was the right thing to do,says Sarasota Memorial Hospital's Director of Geriatrics, Bruce Robinson, M.D.

"When you're older and driving is becoming more and more risky," says Robinson. "It's going to feel very threatening for you to think that people will take away your car keys."

As we age, the brain processes things more slowly. "Each older person as they age, will experience an increase in risk, regardless of what your diseases are and what your problems are."

Symptoms of aging could put you or others at risk of an accident, says Michael Fitzgerald, of Serenity Place at Doctor's Hospital of Sarasota. "They lack the response time, they lack the ability to be able to concentrate, they lack the ability to focus, they lack the ability to be able see as well as they could in the past."

Occupational Therapist Terry Mishos, OT/L of SMH conducts driving tests using special equipment both in and out of the car. She looks for several things.  "Are they able to maintain their lane, stop at stop signs, correct use of turn signals, concentrate and attend to the road?"

Some seniors, like 92-year old Bob Ireland still drive, he said he will be responsible when the time comes and hand over the keys. But, for now he is competent. "I still have excellent eyesight, I can still hear really well, and as far as I know, I have no signs of dementia."

His 95-year old friend Bob King has no problem giving driving. He said his daughter does it for him. "Otherwise I wouldn't have gotten rid of the car."

For those of us in the uncomfortable position of asking for keys, you may want to enlist the help of your family physician. Have them do the asking which takes the pressure off you.

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1 comment:

  • KeepingUsSafe posted at 11:33 am on Wed, Feb 5, 2014.

    KeepingUsSafe Posts: 2

    Don’t give tragedy the opportunity to strike your family; there is help available.

    Keeping Us Safe is a national organization that provides practical, real-life solutions to older drivers and their families.

    “Beyond Driving with Dignity; The workbook for older drivers and their families” serves as the foundation of our family-centered “Beyond Driving with Dignity” program. The program is designed to help older drivers with diminishing driving skills make a smooth transition from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat without deterioration to their dignity, personal pride or independence.

    This program provides families with the missing link between their desire to bring this issue to a peaceful resolution, and their ability to actually do so.

    We offer our Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professionals who have been specifically trained and certified in the “Enhanced Self-Assessment Program” for older drivers.

    Families benefit from a third-party, impartial intervention in resolving this very delicate and sensitive issue. Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professionals can be found throughout the US (including the greater Bradenton/Sarasota areas) and Canada.

    Our programs are designed to save lives while helping to ease the burden of the family as they find themselves faced with this very challenging issue.

    Keeping Us Safe’s “self-assessment program” for older drivers has become a respected resource for physicians, hospital systems, and court systems looking for help for older drivers and their concerned families.

    For more information on our programs, or to learn more about becoming one of the Nation’s Certified “Beyond Driving with Dignity” Professionals, visit Keeping Us Safe at http://www.keepingussafe.org or call us at 877-907-8841.


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