Dad's Drivers License Should Be Revoked!
I never knew how important it was to my dad to drive. I guess because we take it for granted. You get your beginner’s license when you are a teenager, you expect to get your license after you meet the qualifications, and then you never think about it again. Until your license is threatened. Alzheimer’s threatens your license, as it should. The problem is that it’s difficult to advocate for the license being revoked when you are the family member wanting it gone, not the person with the disease or the spouse.
New driving concerns
I really began seeing the changes in dad when it came to driving. He was having ‘near misses’ with the car. Dad and Mom live in the same city where my daughter was attending University. She had job placements for her school program she had to attend. She also had no car. Dad and Mom volunteered to pick her up and drive her to the weekly placement. I thought that was pretty nice of them. Our daughter called to chat one day and said grandpa almost got them into an accident when he drove through a stop sign. Oh... ok...
She went on to tell me about a list of other things she had noticed that were missed when he was at the wheel. I spoke to Mom privately, who agreed those things had indeed happened. She was also very clear that she was navigating for him, would not discuss those concerns with him, or take over driving our daughter to her placement. My husband and I had a decision to make. The hardest part was having to explain to our daughter that because of grandpa’s disease and grandma’s inability to keep her safe, she wasn’t to take rides with them anymore. For any reason. We were shocked beyond belief at Mom’s reaction and decided that we would go down to one car, giving our daughter the second car for her placement.
Driving risks with Dad on the road
Things were going from bad to worse. Dad never had accidents with the car before and now he was. After a family gathering, I noticed a crack in the corner of our shed where Dad had parked the car. All the other cars were nowhere near the shed. Another time Dad had an accident coming to our cottage in one of the small towns he had to drive through. He was charged in the accident. That had no impact on him or Mom.
I tried multiple times to discuss this with my mom who flat out refused to discuss any of this with dad’s doctor. She attended all his doctor’s appointments but would not speak up about what was happening with dad’s driving. The doctor never knew. I went around my mom and dad and spoke to my dad’s doctor. No results there either. The doctor wasn’t seeing what I was describing so, therefore, it didn’t appear to be valid.
Now, on one hand, I get it. There is elder abuse out there. Maybe the doctor was wary of me contacting him, but I thought this was a no-brainer. Dad is not safe driving because of the decline in his cognitive ability. Mom is not safe in the car with dad. And others are not safe with dad on the road. No one was listening to me.
Revoking Dad's drivers license
Things just kept getting progressively worse. Another event happened that not only left me angry and in tears, it left me terrified. Dad and Mom insisted on driving from their home to our cottage. Dad got clocked by the police doing 99 km/hr in a 50 km zone (61 mph in a 31 mph zone) in a small village. Because it was Mother’s Day weekend and he was "going to see his daughter," the police let him off with a warning. I was dumbfounded! In Canada, had he been going 1 more km/hr, it would have been classified as speed racing and his license would have been suspended.
I know the police can't fudge the radar gun result, but a steep ticket and a very stern warning may have had some impact on Mom, if not Dad. What if he killed himself and Mom? What if he killed someone else, a child? I was angry at the officer. I was angry at Mom for not stepping up, for hiding what was happening to Dad and protecting his license, and in the past, not protecting their granddaughter.
While I could not understand at the time my Mom’s refusal to support Dad losing his license, I was also not aware of all that was going on in their home that Mom wasn’t telling any of us. Dad was not recognizing Mom on many occasions. Mom was trying to avoid rocking the boat with Dad. He was getting progressively more and more angry at everything, especially Mom.
It took me two more years to get someone with the authority to listen to me and to revoke Dad’s license. While I had tunnel vision about the driving and I knew this was the safest for Dad and Mom, I had no idea what Mom was dealing with, every day.
Do you have an in-home professional caregiver?