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  1. #1
    New User
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    Jan 2011

    Dad not safe to drive but won't see dr

    Hi, I am new to this forum, and I would be grateful if anyone can help: I am fairly sure my dad has dementia, but he absolutely refuses to see a doctor, and it's been 18 months since we started getting concerned. I can understand that he must be scared and depressed about it, and I can't interfere with his choice not to see the doctor. The reason he gives is that he doesn't want to have his driving licence taken off him.

    BUT - I don't think he's safe to drive any more and I'm getting seriously worried that he's at risk of causing serious injury to himself or someone else. Someone has suggested hiding his car keys, but I know that will most likely make him distressed and he would spend literally 24 hours a day searching for them, or get aggressive with my mum.

    I know this might sound underhand, but it is out of concern for his safety and that of others. Is there anything I can do to get someone to intervene and prevent him from driving?

  2. #2
    Registered User BeckyJan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Hello Offspring:

    Your Dad has obviously has not had a diagnosis so as yet does not have to declare anything to the DVLC.
    If he is refusing to see a Doc can you make an appointment to discuss this problem with him/her. Some GPs will visit at home on pretence of yearly check on elderly patient .

    There is an AS factsheet and towards the end there some advice for re those who refuse to give up.
    Perhaps ring the National Helpline as it suggests, 0845 300 0336.

    I had a similar problem years ago but my husband eventually gave up voluntarily - it was a relief!
    Former Carer

    'Hope is a lover's staff, walk hence with that and manage it against despairing thoughts' (Shakespeare)[/SIZE]

  3. #3
    Registered User cragmaid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    North East England
    Hi and welcome.
    Anyone affected by a medical condition that impairs their ability to drive is legally bound to inform the DVLA (contact details in Appendix 1). If your husband is unable or unwilling to do this, you or his doctor should inform the DVLA on his behalf. The DVLA may offer a repeat driving test if necessary.
    This is taken from the society's factsheet about driving.
    You don't mention how old your Dad is but I think I would
    a) Keep a diary detailing the events that cause you to think Dad has dementia
    b) Make an appointment to speak to Dad's GP, with or without your Mum being there, but certainly tell her that you are doing this, so that the doctor can be fully appraised of your concerns.
    c) If you are really unhappy about his driving, then notify the DVLA yourself ( anonomously if necessary).
    Many GP's will go along with the " age related checkups" line to get him there for his first visit.

    There are lots of other factsheets covering a huge range of information, the link is at the top of the web page.
    Good Luck Maureen.

    “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." said Christopher Robin to Pooh. ( AA Milne)

  4. #4
    Volunteer Moderator jenniferpa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Hi and welcome to Talking Point.

    It is one of the more difficult things to deal with - persuading or sometimes forcing a person to give up driving when they have become unsafe.

    Does your mother drive? That is, does the car have to be there? Some people have found the only real option is to physically remove the car but that might not be possible (and in truth, that's more a last resort, license has been taken away, option). Others have physically disabled the car (ditto).

    I don't suppose, and this will depend on his personality, and your relationship with him, you could tell him that he either goes to the GP to be checked out OR you will tell anyone and everyone (up to and including the police and his insurance company) that he is unsafe to drive? You don't necessarily have to mean it - and yes, it is emotional blackmail. The thing is, as you recognise, while being able to drive may be very important to him, potentially saving someone's life is even more important.

    Does he have more lucid periods where he might be able to understand just how dangerous he has become? You say he won't see the GP because he fears losing his license? It does sound as if he has some measure of insight, at least at times.

    Volunteer moderator and former long distance carer.

    “A test of a people is how it behaves toward the old. It is easy to love children. Even tyrants and dictators make a point of being fond of children. But the affection and care for the old, the incurable, the helpless are the true gold mines of a culture.”

    Abraham J. Heschel

  5. #5
    Registered User Necion's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Hi Offspring, you are certainly right to be concerned.
    I assume you're in UK?
    If you go to DVLA website >driver information >medical conditions, you will get the information there.

    No-one has a right to drive, it depends entirely upon satisfying all the rules and obligations to prove their ability to drive.
    DVLA state clearly that there is an obligation to notify them of any medical condition which may affect ability to drive. Failure to do so can lead to prosecution in the event of an accident, and can invalidate insurance.

    This does not depend upon diagnosis, as it is the licence-holders responsibility to ensure they are able to drive safely. (just like if you borrow someones car, then get 'done' for having bald tyres....the excuse of 'it's not my car...I didn't know' dosen't wash at all, it is the driver's responsibility to ensure the vehicle they drive is roadworthy.)

    If your dad is even thinking he may have his permission to drive withdrawn, this alone shows he believes he may be unsafe to drive. There's no half-way measure in this.

    When my John received the result of his SPECT scan, no diagnosis as yet but stating most likely to represent a fronto-temporal dementia, that, along with symptoms was enough for him to be legally obliged to notify DVLA. Still waiting for outcome.

    God forbid anyone is killed or injured, but if that were to happen, a driver in your dad's situation could not only end up with a life on their concience, but a custodial sentence.

    I have been a professional driver for many years, and this subject is very close to my heart, coupled with my brother having been killed in a RTA where the other driver used a defence of 'possibly' had an epileptic seisure as had had that when he was younger. Thankfully we're in Scotland, and the jury found him 'not proven' rather than 'not guilty'. Not proven simply means we think you're gilty, but can't prove it beyond reasonable doubt.

    I feel as a family you need to decide where to go from here, if your dad is safe to drive, he's got nothing to worry about. If he isn't.......

    I'd be happy to hear how you get on, take care for now.
    Love, Necion. x
    Life is short, even at it's longest.
    Can't remember where I heard that, but very true.

  6. #6
    New User
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Hi everyone
    Thank you so much for your replies and advice- they have given me a lot of food for thought.
    My dad is 73 and living in the UK, with my mum. He does have insight into his condition, but seemingly not enough insight to realise that he might injure someone (or worse) through his driving.
    My mum is 7 years younger and in good health, she is willing and able to do all the driving. I imagine that that not being allowed to drive any more could be a further knock to his self esteem, but self esteem is never more important than the need to protect himself and the general public from harm.


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