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Driving, Dementia, and the Right to Drive

dementiasherpaAs the adult child who watched the dings accumulate on my parent’s car, and then as they continued to drive after their licenses were revoked, this topic still makes my tummy and heart ache.

However, as a Daily Money Manager, I’m now having these discussions with my clients who have hired me to help with the daily finances and bill pay usually because of health issues, and also hearing them lament over their children’s suggestion they give up the car keys.

This week, a client diagnosed with Parkinson’s and that by self-admission is having issues finding words and managing bills is very angry at her children who are suggesting she stop driving. When I asked her what her neurologist said when she asked about driving and safety, she said the rules tell him he has to write a note to rescind her license only if she is passing out. God Bless America. We have made driving a right you receive, not a right you earn and must continually qualify for.

I shared with my client that her adult children are worried for her safety, while she is fighting for her independence. I gave her some examples about how driving can be challenging because she will have to make split second decisions when she’s behind the wheel of her car.

As we discussed the topic a little deeper, she said she was going to voluntarily give up the car keys, but is now so mad that her kids are demanding she give them up, she is fighting to keep driving. My bent toward logic made me talk that through with her a little, but right now, she’s wants understanding and is devastated at the losses she is facing.

I left hoping I could wave a wand and make this easier for everyone. I can now clearly see how this topic is so difficult for every family.

I recently was introduced to Christy Turner, The Dementia Sherpa. She offers a host of great suggestions on how to better  communicate with your loved ones diagnosed with dementia, including some tips on how and when to navigate the issue with driving. Dementia just stinks. Recommended. 

5 comments on “Driving, Dementia, and the Right to Drive

  1. We had that same problem with my Parkinson’s dad. Those with PD seem extra stubborn, and the more you push, the more they will dig in. We ended up taking the battery out of his vehicle and he didn’t have the executive function to act on getting it replaced, though he threatened to several times a day. The key was to make sure that a helpful neighbor didn’t help. Would have preferred a les drastic way, but it was for everyone’s protection.

    • We did something similar at first but my parent’s “helpful neighbor” got the car “fixed” for nearly a thousand dollars, then we had to take it to a real mechanic to get it back in working order to later sell.

  2. […] via Driving, Dementia, and the Right to Drive — Dealing with Dementia […]

  3. Mentally they are not prepared to drive and as we care for them we don’t want them to drive in this condition. They have the right to drive but not easy for them.

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