Honesty, family and driving

I have read many an article, stories and messages about people and driving when they become compromised or we deem them as unsafe and it is difficult and it is met with disbelief, anger and denial. I have even spent time over the brief Christmas period we had off the farm talking to all age groups about it. No I don’t have the answer and no there is no book in it, it will be difficult for the messenger to give the information and even more difficult for the receiver.

One of the funniest responses I have had is people not wanting to lose their spontaneity and I look at most people in disbelief at this statement. I myself am included here, I can not remember the last time I got up and thought “gee I’ll go for a drive today”, I think the days of getting in the car for a ‘Sunday drive’ have left us. Even going for lunch is normally planned so there is time to organise a taxi, uber, cab or someone else to pick you up or drive you, but especially in the country most people plan trips and even shopping expeditions, so I can combat that argument with a rational answer.

The independence one I can understand, but being without a car does not take that away, as we are a society that relies upon each other all the time, we marry, thus are not truly independent, we have friends or work colleagues that we socialise with and we are forever supported by family and friends so short of living on ones own most people are not independent of those we rely upon. We love the activity we do when we drive, but this does not have to stop if we stop driving, although in the country it can be more difficult with lack of any public transport, cabs or options.

These are not criticisms of people but are observations and I place myself in the category, but relying upon others may be something you do not want to do, being dropped somewhere and then having to wait for that person to come back and get you or they sit and wait for you or they do not leave you to having time by yourself is also very restricting and frustrating.

We did have the conversation and it was met with, “I don’t believe that story” when we started by talking with the partner of the person involved. There was a request for evidence and even after having more than one conversation with them, it still took a while to get them to understand the gravity of the situation. In fact it was met with “well what can I do? “. My words were,  they would have to talk with the driver concerned and tell them that it was time to consider not driving. The long-term partner refused and stated it would affect them the most as they did not drive well so was reliant upon the other person to do all of the errands.

Where does one go with that? the next time I met up with them I was spoken to in the kitchen by the driver and told it was a deliberate act of bad parking and a joke not to tell anyone in the family about it. I actually turned, looked into their eyes and said “I have driven with you and a couple of years ago I stated you should never drive unsupervised so this argument would not work on me and they need to consider not driving for the safety of others not themselves. It is a sign you are not driving correctly if you rely on hitting the gutter to park a vehicle and you drove up a driveway and stopped when the tree got in the way” This was met with a shrug of shoulders , which meant they were not going to listen, so now what?

I have read much literature on driving and one of the better ones is the Hartford “we need to talk about..”booklet   I have put the link here but for those like me that need some written information here are some of  their suggestions

DRIVING BEHAVIOR WARNING SIGNS — WHEN NOTICED, HOW OFTEN
1. Decrease in confidence while driving. i.e. not travelling at speed limits (always under) is not driving to the road conditions or driving in back streets to avoid other cars.
2. Difficulty turning to see when backing up. i.e, not being able to turn head or doesn’t remember to look in rear vision mirror.
3. Riding the brake: touching the brake when they see cars turning into lanes next to them etc
4. Easily distracted while driving. i.e. fiddling with radio or looking at the satellite navigation system
5. Other drivers often honk horns: i.e. driving with the white line in the middles of the windscreen,  veering across lanes , driving too slowly
6. Incorrect signaling. turning without signalling, changing lanes without using the indicator , right hand indicator on when turning left and vice versa
7. Parking inappropriately. i.e. rear end of the car sticks out (not forward enough) parking straight on when its parallel parking
8. Hitting curbs. i.e when driving especially turning corners and to stop the car in a park
9. Scrapes or dents on the car, mailbox or garage.
10. Increased agitation or irritation when driving.
11. Failure to notice important activity on the side of the road. i.e. road workers, children
12. Failure to notice traffic signs. i.e.speed changes, school crossings any signage
13. Trouble navigating turns. i.e. missing the street and running up the gutters
14. Driving at inappropriate speeds. i.e. too slow or too fast for the conditions
15. Not anticipating potential dangerous situations.
16. Uses a “copilot.” i.e. relying upon passenger to tell them where to go, road conditions
17. Bad judgment on making turns.
18. Near misses.
19. Delayed response to unexpected situations.i.e. can not brake quick enough
20. Moving into wrong lane.
21. Difficulty maintaining lane position.
22. Confusion at exits.
23. Ticketed moving violations or warnings.
24. Getting lost in familiar places.
25. Car accident.
26. Failure to stop at stop sign or red light.
27. Confusing the gas and brake pedals.
28. Stopping in traffic for no apparent reason.
All of these are signs it’s time to stop and I do realise some are repetitive but please let me know what you’ve discussed.
Sometimes other people’s safety does not come into it, as the person may not be aware of this nor want to become aware of it, so I leave that argument out.
Dementia in a loved one is another kettle of fish and I advise you to go across to @KateSwaffer my friends great blog and Dementia Alliance International to get great advice

 

 

 

When Driving is no longer your thing

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I am at the age where people close to me, parents and some friends are now in the twilight of their lives and decisions need to be made that they won’t or can not see they are having issues with. I know I am no longer the fit agile girl from my youth, but I look in the mirror and am not horrified by what I see. I see a woman looking back at me whose hair is greyer than colour, I have a face that smiles with lines, I have a body that gave birth and there are lumps and bumps one never thinks about when being in your 30’s and 40’s.

The biggest issue I can see for our elderly folk is the driving license, it is something many hold onto without thought for others, it is a single entity that one holds despite ability to drive safely. I know of children of aged parents who go to the Doctor and ask them to remove it and many are angry when this request is refused. I have worked in a Doctors surgery many years back and watched an eighty year old man throw a thousand dollars at the doctor and said it’s all yours if you let me keep my license. It was a shock, the doctor opened his door called the nurse (me) and I was witness to him handing it back and then watching the eye test and other requirements of the medically fit to drive test for the Department of Motor Registration (in Australia) to which this gentleman failed.

I was also the nurse who then had to call his son and get him to come and collect his father and the car whilst he sat in my treatment room sobbing, he was 83 and I sat taking with him about his life and other issues for him to tell me, he and his son hadn’t spoken for 6 months earlier as he asked him to consider stopping driving. This made him angry as he wanted to keep driving to the local shops and to church. I asked him why he put himself and others in danger by doing this as he clearly couldn’t ambulate well – he had a frame, to assist him walking and couldn’t see well enough.

His answer is one that many use to justify the need to keep the license, ” but I’ll lose my independence, I don’t want to rely on my son and others to drive me, but I’ve been driving since I was 13 and I haven’t had an accident. I don’t want to take public transport as there is no bus, train or tram near me.”

Having the discussion about driving with the elderly brings, in most cases an immediate anger response, and instant emotive change from happy to angry no matter the intent of the messenger. How does one go about getting someone you love and care about to admit they are having issues ? Most times saying things out loud can trigger truth in the speaker but the drivers license issue doesn’t.

I look, watch and talk to people and am surprised when I hear children of aging parents say yep, ” I know they are terrible drivers and I won’t let them drive my children around anymore. ” so then begs the question ” have you told your parents this?” 99% of the answer is “God no I don’t want to hurt their feeling” so it’s ok NOT to have your own children being driven by an elderly  unsafe driver but it’s ok that they can drive through school areas without being aware they have an issue.” Here is where it doesn’t make sense but as humans we are basic nurturers and do not wish to hurt anyone’s feelings even if it means putting others in the path of danger.

I know of a person who has TIA (Transient ischemic Attacks – or mini strokes) and refuses to tell the doctor and family about them as they  knows they will have to give up the  license, one of her children just this week has told her they will be discussing this fact after Christmas, she is horrified at the thought, not of the thought she could kill herself or others if she has one when driving, but that she may have to stop driving, umm yes you do.

Then there is stories of deaths by running over spouses, miss identifying the pedals in the car, running cars into shops as they mistook the accelerator instead of the brake, or in cases I have watched driving at 20 kms and then using the gutter as the indicator to stop the car as that’s as far as one can go. There are tales of mistaking car parking spots and ending up on ovals, lawns and other areas, yet this isn’t enough for the person to tell someone they are having trouble. We watch as people use the brake every time they think a car is going to hit them, see a car in their vision and immediately think it is coming at them, these are minor eye issues but they still pose a risk to the general public, nothing worse than driving behind someone who constantly hits the brakes for no reason.

Why this blog and why now? I would like to have any answer from anyone who has had this conversation with a loved one about stopping driving. I don’t want road statistics quoted to me I would like you to contact me and give me clues or stories that got you to stop driving or got a parent or loved one to stop. Keeping in mind some people, country people don’t have any access to hired drivers, taxi’s or public transport.

Please send me ideas and stories, I would love to hear them and read them as this may give me options on how to broach the subject with a loved one who is being observed driving terribly.