When Driving is no longer your thing


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.


Last day of 2014

To me this year has moved slowly, more slowly than many others, for some reason. It has been a trying year for most people I would think, this year started with a slow trickle, we caught up for drinks with old school friends in Adelaide and spent a lovely evening with them. One which I shall treasure for many years to come, it has been great connecting with my old friends from school, planning catch ups and events, I hope this continues throughout the rest of my life.

My lovely daughter bought a place and moved in with her partner and it has been great for me to be able to go to their place and spend time with her and with both of them, they gave us a treat at Christmas by having us over with other family members for dinner.

We have worked hard farming this year, it is a never-ending job one which is mainly a thankless task and going into a drought at the end of the year (now) hasn’t made anything any easier but that is farming and we’ll get through it. More rain from the rain gods please !!

We have been lucky this year, no family deaths but plenty of celebrations, birthdays, and a family get together, where all of us were in the same place for the first time in over 10 years. All my siblings 3 brother & 2 sisters, their partners, and their beautiful children. That was a fantastic day made possible by my older brother and it was sad it ended, we have had over 70’s 50’s & 1st birthday celebrations and that is joy of having a great big family.

May came and I partially ruptured my Achilles, running away from a charging steer but I won a Gourmand Award “Best in the World” Charity / fundraising cookbook for the Keith Hospital. I am now only recovering from the injury. The rest of the year has limped along with me to the end and I am taking stock today and planning on going into 2015 looking forward not behind.

I threw efforts into fund-raising for my old school, to help raise funds to upgrade the science laboratories and with the committee of hard working people and many other participants we raised over $37,000 a fantastic effort and yes I have chosen my charity to help in 2015, letters have gone out and I will be chasing them next week as the event is in April it is for YWCA. Contact me if you can help, it’s a breakfast picnic fund raiser, we need food & silent auction items.

To those of you who have struggled, suffered or limped along and made it through another year, I wish for you all nothing but happiness and better times. To all of you who have been in my life either in person, via twitter, via Facebook, via LinkedIn or even sms my wish for you all is to laugh more often, love more deeply and live for now. I look forward to talking with you all and catching up with you all in 2015. To those I didn’t catch up with this year, you are all in my thoughts and I still value our friendships.

Happy New Year to you all xxxx


Easter Sunday

Days have passed since I have blogged, it has been a big week and I have had a house full of lovely family guests since thursday night. Brothers and Nephews, Cousins and their Kids and today we are going to mix it up with friends from the district. It is a nice time but I miss my daughter. Working fulltime in the country now has me on call on weekends and unable to travel to see her. It will probably be 2 more weeks before I can get to spend time with her.

One of my brothers is a Doctor and he has come and gone and spent 1 night with us and his boys. He takes one look at Pete the dog and then says he’s either got Renal failure or Diabetes. Great, looks like I’m taking him off to the vet this week he has taken on drinking about 5 litres of water a day and puffs a lot. he is coming up 16 after all. Being 15 is equal to being 105 in human years so no doubt he is getting medical issues. Oh it’s going to be heart breaking loosing this pet. he has been next to me when nobody else could. I can not talk about it nor can I continue to blog of his impending demise. I will not let him suffer though, rest assured when it is his time, I will give the nod (for I won’t be able to speak through the grief).

It is lovely having family & kids here, we all get along, eat too much, drink too much and laugh loud and often and luckily our partners do as well. We plan meals and quiet time. If someone wants to head off for a nanny nap there is no yells of outrage or intrusion. All of their children get along and can play outside, these are seasoned campers. It’s lovely seeing our children enjoying each others company like we do as cousins. We have shared times of grief, with births, deaths & marriages, share times of joy with birth, deaths & marriages and most of all we share the common link of being family.Whilst we celebrate the resurrection of jesus Christ, for those believers our Christianity is what unties us, a common bond of being kind, caring and sharing. I hope all have time to sit and reflect today or enjoy sharing each others company or being on your own, whatever it is you choose to do today enjoy it for tomorrow is still another holiday… Hooray