Should my dad continue driving?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Gingersoprano, Mar 12, 2015.

  1. Gingersoprano

    Gingersoprano Registered User

    Mar 12, 2015
    Hi everyone,

    My dad, 78, has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and we're waiting to find out from the DVLA if they think he's competent to be driving. However, I'm not sure their methods are reasonable enough, ie means tested.

    I know my dad, and his driving has become markedly worse over the last ten years. My mum is worried that if he has to give up the car, they will lose a great deal of independence (she's partially-sighted, so doesn't drive). I am extremely nervous of the fact my dad is still driving, especially given that he has frequent episodes of memory loss, even to the point of not remembering what building he came out of ten seconds ago.

    I live across the road from my parents and would be so happy to drive them anywhere they want to go, but out of fear of losing their independence, they refuse to put me on their insurance.

    I'm really worried that their fear and denial will end up causing an accident. I'm very close to my parents, but I really fear that they have their heads a bit in the sand.

    What can I do to help them?
  2. Adcat

    Adcat Registered User

    Jun 15, 2014
    I am not going to mince my words.


    Get the keys, or disable the battery or take the air out of the tyres.

    This one is so difficult but can you imagine how you would feel if your dad had a fatal accident?

    I've been through this. Fortunately for me my dad passed out one day last year and I told him that the Dr wanted to make sure he was fit to drive and he would have to wait 6 months. It was difficult but he took it on the chin. At this point he didn't have a dementia diagnosis. i was in a cold sweat thinking about all the horrid things that could happen to him or some unfortunate member of the public. Save yourself the anguish and follow my advice.

    I don't know where you live in the UK but your parents may be entitled to a taxi card service or dial a ride via your council.

    Take care.
  3. ASH74

    ASH74 Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    I am with Adcat!

    Sadly I have been in your position......I used a steering wheel lock and disabled FIL's MIL who has never driven was also concerned about the loss of her chauffeur!

    What is the opinion of the GP and the diagnosing consultant? If they say he shouldn't be driving his insurance isn't valid!

    There are alternatives as Adcat said.....we got FIL a mobility scooter....there is also tandem mobility scooters!

    I am sorry it is a horrible position .........but you have to be strong.......I always could be my son crossing the road!

    Wishing you strength!

    Sent from my iPad using Talking Point
  4. sinkhole

    sinkhole Registered User

    Jan 28, 2015
    Please do not rely on the DVLA to make this decision.

    You know your dad, they do not.
  5. Tin

    Tin Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    I have to say no, there is enough danger out on the roads without adding to it. My mum stopped driving a year ago, before she was diagnosed and not by choice, I insisted on doing all the driving. Just a thought, but if they will not put you on their insurance policy, can you put their car on yours? or take out a new policy on the car in your name? Or what the hell, just be a little sneaky grab their insurance policy and contact the company and add your name. Then insist on becoming their chauffeur.
  6. Pickles53

    Pickles53 Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    Radcliffe on Trent
  7. Gingersoprano

    Gingersoprano Registered User

    Mar 12, 2015
    Wow, thank you everyone for your advice.

    Am I allowed to go to his GP and ask him to rule dad unfit to drive? Do I have that authority?

    My parents, well my mum at least, is extremely headstrong. She supports dad massively, and I think her support is blinding her to the reality that, by driving in his condition, he puts them both, and everyone around them, in great danger.

    I've tried to explain this to her, but she insists that he's a good driver. As I said before, she's partially-sighted and it's possible that she can't actually see the hazards herself. Plus, she's very sensitive about her sight issues and, once she's offended, there's no more conversation to be had.
  8. chick1962

    chick1962 Registered User

    Apr 3, 2014
    near Folkestone
    It depends my OH has driving assessment every year and to my surprise he passes every time with zero faults! Mind he was a police responds driver and is trained on driving to a very high standard. If you are not sure just get him assessed xx

    Sent from my iPhone using Talking Point
  9. Saffie

    Saffie Registered User

    Mar 26, 2011
    Near Southampton
    Our GP rang the DVLA the day he saw that my husband was mentally confused but before he was officially diagnosed.
    Within a couple of days my husband received a letter from the DVLA asking him to return his licence within a week. He was so upset and returned it there and then.

    When I asked the GP why he had taken this action so quickly, he said that he would never have forgiven himself if someone had been injured or killed and neither would we and I agreed.
    I am amazed that other GPs do not take similar action when confusion is apparant.

    I hasten to add that I am not saying that everyone with a diagnosis of dementia is necessarily incapable of continuing to drive ( Tony, take note!) but when someone shows confusion then surely veering on the side of caution must be the right course of action.

    When I attended a Memory matters course, I was shocked by one woman saying of her so obviously very confused mother, that she only drove to the local shops. Just far enough to kill someone then!:eek:
  10. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    Please be careful about using mobility scooters too. I live in a part of the world with lots of elderly people and there is often problems - pedestrians with walking sticks and mobility scooters competing for space on the pavement. :eek:I have personally witnessed several accidents where the mobility scooter has hit a pedestrian (often elderly) and there was one notorious incident reported in the local paper (I didnt witness this one) where the driver of a mobility scooter ran an elderly lady down, then panicked and reversed back over her :eek::eek::eek:
  11. joggyb

    joggyb Registered User

    Dec 1, 2014
    I agree with all the points made.

    I was in your situation last year - it scared the hell out of me. As someone else has said, do NOT rely on the DVLA to get your dad off the road. In my experience, they are very slow to act and might well simply assess your dad on the basis of a questionnaire (which your dad would fill in) and rely on his answers to be accurate! The whole thing is a nonsense.

    See if your GP will support you and will write to the DVLA.

    Also, do bear in mind that if your dad has an accident while driving with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's, then that diagnosis is likely to invalidate his insurance - do check the policy wording. The financial, let alone human and emotional cost, to your parents in that situation could be horrendous if your dad does serious damage to someone.
  12. Tin

    Tin Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    Get your father to sign a letter addressed to his gp, giving his permission for you to discuss all things with the surgery.
  13. Cath59

    Cath59 Registered User

    Jan 23, 2015
    A letter would be ideal, but from what you've said before, may not be easy to get. Pre dementia, my mother, when very unwell, would typically down play symptoms with the doctor. I took the approach of contacting the doctor saying, "I know you can't discuss her with me, but can I tell you what I'm worried about." It resulted in a much more thorough examination and appropriate treatment. Maybe you could tell your Dad's doctor what you're worried about, why (giving examples) and ask him, if he agrees with you, to tell whoever he needs to. He wouldn't need to break any rules of confidentiality. My uncle drove far longer than he should have done and his car was covered in all sorts of mysterious dents when his daughter confiscated his keys. It would have been awful if he'd done anything to hurt himself, but so much worse both for him and his family if he'd hit a child.
  14. jugglingmum

    jugglingmum Registered User

    Jan 5, 2014
    When I finally realised my mum had alz, she clearly wasn't capable of driving and I removed and hid the keys (and wouldn't let anyone else in my house know where they were so they couldn't give them to her).

    With hindsight she shouldn't have been driving for a couple of years, but I didn't have a clue about dementia before all this, I had taken her for an eyesight test which she easily passed and I didn't understand why she wasn't reacting to things she could see as she drove, or when she crossed a busy dual carriageway she near enough stepped out in front of cars. I was very upset (sleepless night level) when I realised her limitations that I had let her drive when unsafe with my children in the car.

    I think she could have been diagnosed with alz for 5 or 6 years before I realised and for 4 of those was safe to drive.

    My first thought on removing her keys was to get her a mobility scooter, but I then realised that the issues which prevented her from driving would also make her very unsafe with a mobility scooter.

    If you can see that your father is unsafe to drive, remove the keys or immoblise the car. My mum's car was covered in dings from poor maneuvering, but even worse I think she could have easily killed a child as she didn't have the perception to stop safely. As it was she very nearly ended up driving the wrong way down a dual carriageway when she got lost 100 miles off route.

    My brother took her to his GP to get repeat prescriptions and the GP said she could still drive :eek: The fact she had had no insurance for 9 months and been prosecuted for it didn't seem to be an issue. He had never met her before and only seen her for 10 minutes during which she was obviously confused and agitated and repeated herself continually, she of course remembered this, although she couldn't' remember anything else of the consultation so don't rely on a GP to step up to the mark.
  15. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
  16. Angela T

    Angela T Registered User

    Jul 13, 2014
    #16 Angela T, Mar 13, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2015
    I had the same dilemma with my mother last August. We all knew she should not be driving, so her old-age psychiatrist wrote to the DVLA and my mother received the letter from the DVLA one week later. I think there is a fast track, when a doctor writes in, otherwise it can take weeks/months.

    My mother continued driving - her insurance of course was invalid since the diagnosis of Alzheimer's.

    I ended up "stealing" her car and driving it to the local garage, who bought it from us.

    My mother was furious for a few weeks, saying I was a thief, going down to the garage, calling the police etc... then she forgot all about it.

    For me this was VERY difficult, but I was determined to remove that car. I imagined her injuring/killing a young person, and I knew I would never forgive myself.

    We are the responsible adults, our mothers with AD are not.
  17. sinkhole

    sinkhole Registered User

    Jan 28, 2015
    Your mum is going to defend your dad's position regardless of how safe/unsafe he may be so I'm afraid you mustn't let yourself be swayed by her opinion.

    The only things that matter here are making sure your dad stays safe and he doesn't endanger other road users/pedestrians.

    Some decisions and actions we have to take will upset our loved ones, but as long as they are taken for the right reasons, it's justified.
  18. Countryboy

    Countryboy Registered User

    Mar 17, 2005
    I haven’t been active on T.P for a while although I read the threads now and again.
    I been a member of T.P since March 2005 I joined then after reading a thread about dementia and driving any many replies since then especially on driving or DVLA threads , I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in November 1999 by a Consultant at Hospital in 2001 after visiting a different Consultant I was told I needed to inform the DVLA of my diagnoses I didn’t see that as a problem at the time and informed the DVLA I was shocked when after 6 months I was told my driving licence was being replaced and they would issue me a licence for a 12 month period obviously I was unhappy with this in 2003 after having a PET (Positron Emission Tomography: a nuclear medicine scanning that involves capturing cross-sectional images of the brain ) I was told there was loss of volume of my frontal lobes , in 2004 after the second brain scan I tried to get my driving license reinstated to a full license, unfortunately the bureaucrats at DVLA weren’t listing to me at all , after
    being issued with 11 , driving licenses for a 12 month period , I decided to gather evidence with regards to my ability to drive I my , took diving assessments , got letters from G.P’s ,Consultants , Car Hire company I use in Majorca, my insurance agent and friends, and decided to challenge the DLVA decision in Court of Law , The DVLA in 2012 issued me with a Full None Medical Driving License , I didn’t give up , I know there are varying types of Dementia , and I may be more fortunate then some but it shouldn’t be assumed the word Alzheimer’s dementia a person cannot carry on living a very active life with very few problems , regards insurance the only requirement from them is that you have notified the DVLA of your medical condition and the DVLA has issued you a driving License

    finally I am aware not everyone can or has the ability to drive but dementia Shouldn’t mean revoking a person’s licence

    hope this helps a person with dementia concerned about DVLA /driving
    ( to add I'm 72 ) sorry about the grammar or mistakes I have dementia read ok to me
  19. RedLou

    RedLou Registered User

    Jul 30, 2014
    I think people who are passengers can tell if someone is getting unsafe. My father's best friend refused to be driven by him anymore and all his friends told him he shouldn't be driving. I'd been expressing my concerns to him for some months but it was their combined effort that persuaded him.
    Go with your instincts. & while you're waiting, can you drain the battery? If he caused an accident you would feel terrible.
  20. Cath59

    Cath59 Registered User

    Jan 23, 2015
    Tony is right to point out that Dementia doesn't necessarily mean that someone is immediately unfit to drive. It's clear, though, that Gingersoprano is worried that her father is no longer safe on the road. The loss of a driving licence, the way our society is set up, means such a loss of independence that it's not surprising that so many people stick their heads in the sand. My mother lost her licence because of her sight, a good few years before dementia symptoms became obvious and it had a massive affect on her. Having me willing to chauffeur her didn't come close to being able to just decide on a trip there and then. There are plenty of elderly people who shouldn't be driving as various health issues, slower reactions etc become a problem. There are also plenty who, with years of experience can be safer than many younger drivers. I'm quite happy to be driven by my 87 year old aunt. The fact remains that a car driven by an unsafe driver can be lethal to both the driver and anyone unfortunate enough to get in their way. With huge sympathy for whoever may be faced with that loss of independence it has to be the duty of anyone who realises that a relative or friend is no longer safe behind the wheel to find a way to stop them.

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