Advice needed please. My dad is obsessed about driving...

Chippy01

Registered User
Mar 6, 2012
13
My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimers last Sept time, but he is in complete denial about this diagnosis and wants to see other doctors to get their opinions. To complicate things more he also has cataracts in both eyes (waiting to see consultant at the end of april and we've been to 2 separate opticians as he doesn't believe them ). He voluntarily gave up driving for a few months and we were relieved as he kept getting lost and stressed when driving anyway. However he has become completely obsessed about driving and refuses to believe that he needs to inform DVLA about both his diagnoses (we have checked this out and he has to by law) and i think this is because he doesn't believe there's anything wrong and also because he's worried that they'll take his licence off him. We have the same conversation every day and tonight he has called 3 times in 2 hours and we've gone through the same thing each time. he lives on his own by the way.
I'm worried because he's so obsessed that he's unable to talk or think about anything else and is getting distressed and sometimes aggressive about it.

What can we do? Is it worth going to the GP again? I think he's depressed as well and probably has been since my mum died 10 years ago but his views on that is that he has to pull himself together etc

Please can someone help?

thanks
 

rajahh

Registered User
Aug 29, 2008
2,794
Hertfordshire
Hio there. Yes I think a trip to the GP might help. I would ask the GP to write to DVLA and let them do the rest.

It does sound as though he should not be driving. I had similar problems with my own husband and it took about 2 years to recolve, He too did not believe Drs. he was told by 5 professionals he really should not be driving and when he came home and I repeated what they had said he was they are all prats!!!

It is hard but in the end someone has to be brave enough to inform DVLA.

Jeannette
 

Chippy01

Registered User
Mar 6, 2012
13
Thank you for your reply. It is really difficult isn't it! my dad thinks all the doctors are prats too! The DVLA have said that the only person that can inform them is my dad - which seems like a mad system if he is incapable of telling them what they need to know. They said that if dad gives permission for them to talk to us in his presence then that is ok...but he's not going to like what we say as he doesn't believe it .. so I'm not sure whether he'd agree or whether he'd grab the phone off us and tell them that it's not true!
I will try to get an appointment with the GP, not least so that he can see how muddled and distressed dad is getting about it, but I suspect that dad will put on an act infront of the doctor as usual and then get angry once we've left and then forget what was said anyway!
Thank you for your advice - it's nice to share experiences
 

rajahh

Registered User
Aug 29, 2008
2,794
Hertfordshire
It is a legal requirement that when someone is diagnosed with Alzheimers DVLA have to be informed.

I actually got my husband's permission to write for him as he was incapable of composing a letter. I did get him to sign it but explained it was me writing it.

My GP also wrote.

They sent a form back and he asked me to fill it in for him which I did!!!!

He got a latter back asking him to hand back his licence.

If he has been told absolutely NOT TO DRive by a medical person then his insurance will be null and void.

My husband was not told NOT TO DRIVE. He was advised not to drive there is a very big difference. I rang Insurance company and they said as long as he had not been told NOT TO DRIVE he was still covered.

As soon as he agreed to send his licence back I took it off him and posted it the same day, and cancelled his insurance.

It is a complete nightmare.

You can write to DVLA to say you are reporting his diagnosis. There is another thread on here started by BUTTER ,either today or yesterday you should read that too.

Jeannette
 

Nebiroth

Registered User
Aug 20, 2006
3,511
Tell his GP. GP's have a duty to stoppatients from driving when they believe they're not capable of doing it safely. The guidelines say that the GP should make reasonable efforts to convince the patient to stop voluntarily and to inform the DVLA themselves, but if this fails then the GP will tell the DVLA instead. Once that happens the DVLA will revoke your dad's driving license, if he drives after that he would be arrested.

I know it sounds horrible to be so harsh but at the end of the day, the safety of other raod users takes precedence over your dad's feelings and you may have to put it to him in a brutal way to force him to accept the reality.

I think there's a good chance he never will, though, in which case allyou can do is to take the practical steps to force him to stop driving however much he dislikes this.

A belief that there is nothing wrong is really common in those with dementia, they will reject any evidence contrary to this belief. Your dad genuinely thinks he is completely capable and thus resents being told he isn;t safe to drive and won;t be allowed to as much as anyone else would.

Ultimately, I'm afraid that many drivers with dementia have to have their cars confiscated or disabled because of that. They would never stop voluntarily, regardless of having licenses removed and threats of the police and the courts.
 

Butter

Registered User
Jan 19, 2012
6,738
NeverNeverLand
I have just written to DVLA:

The Drivers' Medical Group
DVLA
Swansea
SA991TU

as they asked, giving husband's name, dob, medical conditions .... telling on him infact, because he is not safe to drive.
I will have to deal with his distress later but if I don't do that and some innocent person gets hurt I would never forgive myself.
 

Chippy01

Registered User
Mar 6, 2012
13
GP's views about driving

Hi and thanks very much for all the advice you gave me . Called my dad's GP and he said that there are 4 issues:
patient confidentiality
dad's relationship with his GP
safety of others road users
dad's free will

He advised that someone call DVLA anonymously to say that there are concerns about dad's driving.that then they may write to the GP asking his views and then he can reply without affecting the issues above

dad is not driving at present because we have moved his car but he is still agitated about it on a daily basis. He cannot accept that DVLA need to know because he is adamant that he has not got Alzheimers and needs a second opinion from someone who will say he's fine (his words!) and also he believes that he has cured his cataracts by using Optrex every day. There is no reasoning with this and we have the same conversation every day on numerous occasions and he gets so agitated.

It's so difficult to see him so obsessed and agitated but it's also so draining to deal with this issue all the time with no other conversation and so the saga continues....

Thanks for listening!
 

nmintueo

Registered User
Jun 28, 2011
847
UK
[my dad's GP] advised that someone call DVLA anonymously to say that there are concerns about dad's driving.that then they may write to the GP asking his views and then he can reply without affecting the issues above [patient confidentiality etc]
The GMC has advice for doctors on how to deal with precisely this situtation:

Mr Jessop shares concerns about his wife's fitness to drive with their GP, Dr Williams. Should Dr Williams inform the DVLA? And should she tell Mrs Jessop the source of her concerns? Decide what Dr Williams should do
http://www.gmc-uk.org/guidance/ethical_guidance/confidentiality.asp#t2
Confidentiality: reporting concerns about patients to the DVLA or the DVA
http://www.gmc-uk.org/Confidentiality_reporting_concerns_DVLA_2009.pdf_27494214.pdf

  • If a patient refuses to accept the diagnosis, or the effect of the condition on their ability to drive, you can suggest that they seek a second opinion, and help arrange for them to do so. You should advise the patient not to drive in the meantime.
  • If a patient continues to drive when they may not be fit to do so, you should make every reasonable effort to persuade them to stop. As long as the patient agrees, you may discuss your concerns with their relatives, friends or carers.
  • If you do not manage to persuade the patient to stop driving, or you discover that they are continuing to drive against your advice, you should contact the DVLA or DVA immediately and disclose any relevant medical information, in confidence, to the medical adviser.
  • Before contacting the DVLA or DVA you should try to inform the patient of your decision to disclose personal information. You should then also inform the patient in writing once you have done so.
Your GP is right that there are patient confidentiality issues. His suggested solution is, um, interesting; gets him off the hook, anyway.

As you said in the first place, you have a diagnosis and the law requires notifying the DVLA. If your dad doesn't accept the diagnosis, that doesn't exempt his doctor from responsibility.

You say your dad is in denial about the diagnosis and wants to see another doctor for a second opinion. Do that. Following GMC advice, the GP should help arrange that for you. That way, you do what your dad wants and his GP takes the step he should.

If your dad changes his mind and refuses to go for a second opinion, and if your GP still won't act, contact DVLA yourself. I wouldn't recommend that you report anonymously; that way, there is no record that you acted correctly.

Download the form for the DVLA and fill it in. If your dad won't sign it, send it to the DVLA yourself (explaining who you are and why you're sending it), and CC it to the GP.

The Alzheimer's Society factsheet on Driving and dementia says this:

A person with a diagnosis of dementia would be breaking the law if they did not tell the DVLA about their diagnosis, and could be fined up to £1,000. If a person with dementia does not inform the DVLA about their diagnosis and continues to drive against advice from their doctor, the doctor may inform the DVLA if he or she feels that public safety or road safety would be at risk. Other people, such as family members, neighbours or police officers, may also contact the DVLA in writing and ask it to carry out a medical investigation if they are concerned about a person's fitness to drive.
Driving and dementia
http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=144

Alzheimer's disease and driving
You must tell DVLA if you have Alzheimer’s disease.
https://www.gov.uk/alzheimers-disease-and-driving

The DVLA have said that the only person that can inform them is my dad - which seems like a mad system
Yes, that would be mad. It's also not true, as you can see from the factsheet and the GMC's advice above.

Butter called the DVLA and they dealt with it like this:

I called DVLA and they have given me the address to write to. DVLA tell me they will write to my husband telling him they have heard from a 3rd Party.
Experience with doctors varies:

I can't believe the GP has not informed the DVLA. My husband's did and he was still scoring at normal levels. They wrote straight away and asked him to return his licence.
It took me nearly a year to get anywhere with consultants and doctors about DVLA.
They all said my husband shouldn't drive, but wouldn't write.
In the end I wrote and his licence was returned to DVLA as soon as they requested it.
The Consulant has reported my friend to the DVLA, she now has to go for a driving assessment.
Previous thread:

Dad won't give up driving
http://forum.alzheimers.org.uk/showthread.php?19139

See also:



Clinical pathway for advice on driving after a diagnosis of dementia
from
Clinical Review: Driving and dementia
BMJ 2007;334:1365
http://www.bmj.com/content/334/7608/1365

It's pretty close to the GMC statement; the pertinent point here is that there is no pathway from 'Diagnosis of dementia' to 'dump DVLA notification responsibility on the family'.
 
Last edited:

Chippy01

Registered User
Mar 6, 2012
13
Thanks so much

Thank you so so much for that fantastic and helpful reply - I appreciate it so much. You are so kind to have gone to the effort of giving me this information and I will now take things forward.
:)
 

Nebiroth

Registered User
Aug 20, 2006
3,511
The guidance is quite clear but evidently doctors and officials are unaware of it, or perhaps choose to be unaware of their obligations. It does sound to me as though there is some reluctance on the GP's part to take the initiative and responsibility to me!

Don;t worry about the fines, it is incredibly unlikely that the DVLA would prosecute anyone with dementia, since your dad's refusal is stemming from his lack of insight (in turn leading to denial, since his belief there is nothing wrong is real), therefore, he can;t be held responsible.
 

lesley52

Registered User
Apr 7, 2012
4
My mum's obsession with driving

Hi, I am new to this Forum - so please bear with me if I get it wrong. My mum was diagnosed on Jan 16th with Vas/D and categorically told by a pyschiatrist and then on many occasions by her GP she must not drive. She point blank refuses to believe that anything is wrong with her and literally every phone conversation / visit revolves around her driving. I have had, with my sister's consent, taken her car to my house as my mum has said, come what may she will drive and doesn't care about any consequences even killing/maiming someone else. Its a nightmare and has really dented our relationship as she sees me as the real baddy in life. She has 2 letters from pyschiatrist and doctor about driving and again says they are idiots, she only wants to drive 5 miles each way twice a week!

In the most bizarre way its so nice to see I am not alone!
 

Chemmy

Registered User
Nov 7, 2011
7,591
Yorkshire
Hello Lesley

Welcome to TP.

Good for you about taking the initiative and removing the car. There is no room for debate on this; if anyone is deemed not safe to drive, they should be stopped and hang the consequences. Dealing with the guilt of a preventable accident or even death would be ten times worse.
 

jenniferpa

Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
39,448
Welcome from me as well.

Well done for being brave enough to remove the car. You may be regarded as the "bad guy" but I think it's pretty heroic, frankly.
 

caring fromafar

Registered User
Oct 28, 2008
31
We too had to take MIL's car away.
She asked repeatedly about driving we gave her the same answer each time. She would be able to drive as soon as the car was fixed which should be by the end of the week. :D She accepted that (for an hour or 2) then went back to the question and so the circle began again.
 

LisaQ

Registered User
Apr 3, 2012
29
Somerset
i hope this helps

My Dad was told to stop driving 3 years ago by his consultant. I was really hard for him to accept as it felt like a blow to his 'manhood'. He had always driven mum from a to b even though she was a very capable driver. It was his first big blow on being diagnosed and coming to terms with everything was a slow process.

In our family we have always used humour to get through bad situations. We all gathered around as often a possible and partied our way through those really dark days. It sound a bit mad but that was how we got through it. In those early days dad would ask to be taken to Switzerland for a quick ending. We just kept telling him how much we loved him and needed him still. It was all horrid but that phase has passed.

I really hope you find your own way to cope. Just keep talking, listening and reassuring him. Being open and spelling thinks out in black and white seems to be the only way to get the message through. I couldnt stop kissing him and telling him how much I loved him. Crazy as it seems, we have never been so close. We talked lots on all subjects, even religion. I know dad better now than I ever did, proving to me that some clouds really do have a silver lining.

Hang in there.
Lisa x
 

Edwardo

Registered User
Apr 3, 2012
48
Preston,Lancashire
Good Morning Chippy01, I know exactly where you are coming from on this subject.. I had the same problem when my husband was diagnosed with AD 3yrs ago, although had had memory problems for 5yrs prior to diagnosis.. I knew my husband was no longer safe to drive and sent an email to the DVLA reporting his diagnosis, my husband got a letter back more or less straight away asking for return of his driving license... He still goes on and on about not being able to drive but doesn associate it with having AD thinks its because of an accident that happened 15yrs ago (not his fault). It really doesnt make any differance who reports the illness but it does have to be reported. As a family we had experianced my husbands driving deterioate over a 6mth period to the stage when I was literally telling him what lane to be in, when to indicate etc although he remembers nothing of this. It was the hardest thing I have had to do... although as his illness is progressing there are worse things to worry about. Good Luck its not easy and as I say 3yrs later we still get the same conversation about his driving license.

Carolyn
 

Chippy01

Registered User
Mar 6, 2012
13
Hi

It is so reassuring that you all agree with taking the car away even though it can cause distress. It is weird that you know this is the right thing to do but the constant pressure and conversations about driving made me doubt myself at times and feel guilty. But never enough to falter in my belief that it was the right thing as I couldn't live with myself if dad hurt anyone else by driving.
So dad is still going on about driving and getting very angry with my husband for "taking" his car. However, I have managed to get him to sign the forms for DVLA and they have been sent off!!! He believes that there is nothing wrong (either Alzheimers or cataracts - which he thinks have been cured by optrex) so he thinks he will be able to drive soon anyway and to be honest I've given up with trying to reason or explain the facts and instead have just been saying we'll see what the doctor says, or what DVLA say etc. This doesn't stop the monotonous conversations but it stops him feeling that he is losing all control of the situation. who knows what will happen when he realises that he will not be able to drive from an official source, but I suspect that he will say they are idiots, that there is nothing wrong and that we will have the same conversation for evermore ....

Like Lesley52 said - in a strange way it is good to know that you are not the only one in this situation. in fact the more I read the things that people have written on this forum, the more I realise what this illness does to families and what a mixture of support there is out there at times. this forum seems to be an amazing resource.

thanks again :)
 

lesley52

Registered User
Apr 7, 2012
4
My rest day tomorrow, Monday, over to my mum's for the afternoon - or for how long she will allow me to stay.... she has now told me she is "banned from the doctor's" as she keeps making appointments to discuss when she can drive again..... Her doctor has assured me she isn't literally banned - but she is making life very difficult at the surgery as she gets so agitated - thank you so much to you all for your replies!! When looking at other threads on the website - i get more scared each day and I am really not looking forward to the future for my mum - and possibly myself? Wish me luck tomorrow - I am sure driving will be a hot topic of our conversation!!

Take care everyone!:
 

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