The decision to take away the keys

Have you had to make that decision for an elderly friend or family member when you know they are no longer safe to be driving on the road? Or have you made the decision for yourself?

I had a friend who, at the age of 88, was still driving, and believed to be doing it well. She turned the corner one day, and realized she had almost hit a pedestrian in the crosswalk who she saw too late. She drove to her daughter’s house,parked the car, and gave the keys to her daughter. “I’m done driving,” she told her. “If I killed someone, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.” The daughter decided to have her mother’s vision checked and the doctor found the beginning of macular degeneration.

Yesterday a fellow who has a business in a downtown area of Fresno posted to Facebook the photo of a car that he warned others to avoid as the elderly woman driver was driving erratically and had nearly missed the UPS driver and then stopped her car in the intersection at a light. Most of us responded with the advice to call police and/or highway patrol to report the license plate number, which he had on the photo. Someone needed to tell this lady that it may be time to stop driving. Or, at least take a course in driving for seniors.

AAA offers such a course. They will even give you a discount on your insurance if you take it. California DMV now requires everyone who turns 70 to come in for an  exam.

Terry’s mother had two accidents, neither of which harmed any person, just property, before she finally stopped driving. She wrecked the car so badly on the second accident that she had no other choice. I kept telling Terry that she shouldn’t be driving, but she and the other two brothers thought she was okay. I told Terry, “How will you feel if she hits and kills someone?”

I am hopeful that I will be like my friend who whom I started this post, who knew enough to give up her keys without being made to do so, and before harming self, others, or property.

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6 responses to “The decision to take away the keys

  1. Hey, thanks for dropping by my place today. 🙂

    We just went out to grab a few things at the shops and an elderly lady stopped at our roundabout for no reason at all. There was no traffic other than us, and we were on the side she did not have to give way to.

    My Mother had her vision checked after a fall and they found cataracts, which they have removed one of because it was pretty bad. She had no idea her vision had become as bad as it had become. The other eye was doing a lot of work to try and compensate.

    I dread the day I will have to take her keys away. Not because I will mind driving her around, in fact I will enjoy getting to spend more time with her, but because it feels a bit like taking her freedom away.. :/

    I like your blog, I’m adding you to my feed reader. 🙂

    • Thanks for the reciprocal visit! Glad you found something you like.

      Giving up our cars does seem to mean a lessening of our independence but it really shouldn’t. We have become such a car-dependent society, haven’t we? I wish our city had better public transportation.

  2. This is a very important issue. My uncle recently decided on his own to stop driving, he is having signs of early dementia.

  3. It’s a hard decision. I am very fortunate to have a wonderful bus system here in Bellingham, and once I need to stop, I’ll still be able to get around. Plus after I turn 75, it’s free. 🙂

  4. My dad knew when it was time to give up his keys. For this I am forever grateful.

  5. This is difficult, isn’t it? My uncle is 95 and still occasionally drives. Granted he’s got better eye sight that most people and his blood work is better than all of ours, but his kids are having a hard time getting him to stop.

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