Thursday, April 7, 2011

How to tell your parents they cannot drive anymore

Who’s going to tell Grandma she’s unfit to drive?

An editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal this week emphasized the need to help seniors adapt when it’s no longer safe for them to be behind the wheel. After the age of 75, it explained, the crash rate per kilometre surpasses that for teenage drivers. And by 2025, it noted, one in four Canadians will be 65 or older.

It's NOT 'Grandma', it is our parents. It is the responsibility of adult children to watch our failing parents. And it is one that many undertake reluctantly. It is difficult to get doctors on board. Both children and physicians do not want to be the one responsible.

Someone has to bite the bullet. I have documented many individual incidents, doing a search over the years. Since adult children are not objective, perhaps it is the responsibility of physicians to bite the bullet. They are the professionals. Adult children are reluctant, when fighting with parents as it is. Many, in the stories I hear, are trying to assist senior parents in finding adequate support in the home. Many are spending hours providing extra care when parents cannot manage ADLs (cooking, cleaning, food preparation) or IADLs (banking, grocery shopping). Then, when a frail parent falls, and/or a spouse cannot help pick them up, it is the adult child who gets the 2:00 a.m. phone call to come and rescue them. This all takes a toll on adult children juggling their children, and jobs.

Surely this is one area where physicians must step up. One death caused by a frail driver is one death too many.

SUNDAY, MARCH 28, 2010

How old is too old to drive?

I think the better question: How frail is too frail to drive? Not a legal term, but one which requires examination. More often than not, we see those with canes, hobbling away from a car, people who cannot navigate their bodies well when standing, have issues with mobility when navigating a 4,000 lb. vehicle. It takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to protect us from ourselves.


Senior drivers in the news

Ontario has some great driving courses. Drive Wise helps correct skills that may be weak. It is, of course, up to adult children to monitor parents who may be risking all of our lives. 


Senior Drivers in the news

I have posted previously about the importance of early identification of symptoms, such as dementia. In this way we can ensure the safety of both seniors, and society. Dementia, while it cannot be reversed, we can pay attention to symptoms and help alleviate symptoms.

With increased limitations to mobility and access to sensory information, senior drivers must be vigilant, and solutions, such as physiotherapy, can help increase their ability to drive safely.
As I wrote previously inSenior Drivers in Ontario,
"Transport Canada warns of those in intersections being the most at risk. Current stats, in the recent Ontario move to more severely curtail teen drivers, reveals statistics that demonstrate seniors are more risky than newbie teen drivers."

SUNDAY, MAY 24, 2009

Senior Drivers in Ontario

In an Ministry of Transportation of Ontario PPT (Jan. 11, 2004), I read that Senior Drivers in Ontario over the age of 80 numbered 165,758 in 2001.

About 65,000 have a semi-annual licence renewal consisting of a vision, knowledge and road test. I recall my late mother studying for her test. She had not driven in more than 30 years, but had kept up her licence. Once Dad's brain tumour required his licence be taken away, she was the driver again. She had issues navigating their mini-van up and down the driveway, especially in snow. Sometimes she would ask a neighbour for help --information that I felt I should have been given, and with her doctor we could have made some better-informed decisions. She may have been a danger to others when she drove.

Stories abound of seniors driving when they were incapable of doing so safely. Jim Taylor, a Canadian writer/blogger, titles one 2004 blog, "Seniors becoming a scapegoat for social discontent." His stats, from Canadian sources, demonstrate the need to concern. Transport Canada warns of those in intersections being the most at risk. Current stats, in the recent Ontario move to more severely curtail teen drivers, reveals statistics that demonstrate seniors are more risky than newbie teen drivers:
  • 6.4 % of fatal accidents caused by those less than 20 years of age
  • 7.3 % caused by those over age 65 (with fewer km traveled).
  • While 16 - 19 yr. olds have accident rates of 2.47 per 10,000
  • Adults over the age of 65: 2.9 per 10,000

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