Caring for an aging parent can be challenging. It is hard to reverse the roles of caregiver and care-receiver. You love them, and making tough decisions that are contrary to their wishes is hard. But just like when they stopped you from playing in the road as a child, you now keep them safe from oncoming traffic. So, what are your options for keeping your driving parents safe when they are posing a danger to themselves and others?

You do have choices, but they will come with some difficult discussions and decisions.

Some Options

  • They decide for themselves to give-up the keys.

This is the best option, but often the hardest. This requires a series of conversations with your parent where you discuss with them your concerns.

Document concrete examples.

    • What is their vision like?
    • Hearing?
    • Reaction time?
    • Mobility?
    • Have they received numerous tickets or accidents?
    • Have you noticed dents or scratches on their car?

Point out to them the risk of lawsuits from an accident if they hit a school bus. It puts their finances at risk. Often, they do not like to think of the nest egg being taken or their legacy disappearing. This conversation could lead to a solution you are looking for.

Also, offer alternative transportation solutions. Afterall, they do not want to give up their independence. Provide options for them like Uber and Lyft, public transportation, family and friends, or specialized transit for seniors.

  • Professional Advice

Often a senior will take the advice of their doctor or an elder law attorney when they will not listen to their family. Talk with the doctor, primary care and/or eye doctors, about your concerns. Just know that the doctor cannot share any recommendation without the patient’s consent. And, unfortunately, the department of motor vehicles also requires a doctor’s letter before evaluating a senior.

Those who wish to file such a report should submit all details of their concern in writing to:

Tennessee Department of Safety
Driver Improvement Section
1150 Foster Avenue
Nashville, TN 37243

Vanderbilt University Medical Center has an option that may help. Their driver evaluation and rehabilitation program has a two-appointment assessment. The first is in-clinic where they test things like reaction speed, visual acuity, road sign recognition, and judgment. The second appointment is an on-the-road assessment. Recommendations are then made based on the evaluation.

  • Conservatorship

When all else fails, a court can declare the senior unable to care for themselves. The court will then assign a conservator who will be involved in making decisions for the senior from then on. This is where the keys can be forcibly taken from the senior.

We Can Help

The good news is that you have options, and more options are available to you the earlier that you start your planning. Please let us help you to evaluate your individual needs and develop a plan that will give you peace of mind for whatever comes your way.

For more information, contact our Lebanon, TN office at 615-444-3568 and schedule your appointment today.