Elderly parents can start having trouble with certain things such as memory and coordination. It may initially seem just like a part of aging that’s concerning, but ultimately manageable. However, these symptoms can lead to a diagnosis of dementia and some very serious discussions, including what do to about their ability to drive. If your mother has dementia and still has a driver’s license this is what you need to know.
The Appearance of Dementia
This isn’t something that just pops out of nowhere and robs someone of their cognition. What can make it so hard is the gradual decline, both for patients and those attending to them. It might start as a few memory lapses or checking out mentally for a moment. Then, this can lead to more regular, concerning behaviors.
Trust Your Instincts
If something seems amiss with how your mother has been acting, you need to bring her to have a proper medical examination. An official diagnosis won’t act as a cure, as no such thing exists for this disease. It will, however, give you confirmation and help you to map out what kind of action needs to be taken from here.
Having a driver’s license is a privilege, and once someone shows that they can no longer be trusted to drive safely, that privilege must be revoked. To be a safe driver, one needs to be able to stay alert, have good coordination, and process information quickly. All of these are things that your mom likely has been dealing with, while driving or otherwise. Even if she hasn’t yet hurt herself or someone else, it could be only a matter of time unless you do something.
When to Step In
When your mom’s diagnosis is clear, you have to make a decision about what to do about her driving privileges. She will have to surrender her license eventually, but she might not be ready to. You can give her the option of going only on pre-approved routes, no more than five miles from her home and not on highways. A companion who can direct her and take the wheel when she’s showing any signs of confusion. Should her doctor determine that she can no longer be trusted to drive safely, she needs to listen to their expert opinion and not try to find any loopholes.
What To Say
Your mom might be understanding the loss of her ability to drive, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy for her to fully accept. When you talk to her about this, you need to be understanding and sympathetic. This will help ease the communication.
If your mom can’t drive any longer, there’s no need to sugarcoat it any more than necessary. You should be compassionate, but you shouldn’t give her any dishonest hope. Tell her straight up that she has to stop. Depending on how she takes it, you might be able to end the conversation there or provide additional reassurance.
Telling your mom she can’t drive can make you feel like you’re an unfeeling bearer of bad news. You know that this is for the best, but you still need to show your mom this as well. Let her know that you love her and that you want the best for her. You can emphasize the positive aspects of this, such as her being able to spend more time relaxing and enjoying time at home with loved ones instead of having to run errands.
Don’t Hate Yourself
You must show compassion towards yourself as well. It can be tough to have to make this decision, because you don’t want this be happening to your mom. However, your intervention could help to protect her life and the lives of countless drivers and pedestrians.