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EDITORIAL RESPONSES  /The Key QuestionEditorial List

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The Key Question Editorial Responses
These are just some of the many responses we received from our Editorial of 07/21/10 - The Key Question

In my case, we had to buy a new car and, strange as it seems, it only had one key.  Somehow, we have never got around to getting another.  My husband seems content with being able to unlock the doors with the electronic remote. Also, prepare ahead.  He is 23 years older than I am and I always knew there would come a time when I would have to take over on a lot of things, driving included.  I began establishing myself as the main driver before it was ever an issue.  The transition was much easier.

Hope that helps someone.


This may or may not apply. Texas law states that if anyone has been unconscious, they cannot legally drive for six months without physician approval. (This could be used in the event of an automobile accident of some sort.) My husband had a cardiac arrest at home. After he had his defibrillator/pacemaker inserted, the doctor's nurse told us this in normal conversation. It was the only time we'd been made aware of this law. My husband has not had a problem giving up his driving privileges, even though it's been 18 months since his cardiac arrest. Now his mother was another story!!!! I enjoy your newsletters and am very glad that a friend let me know of your publication(s).


My husband had three cars (I had one of my own) and it was time for him to stop driving. He had Alzheimer's and was in an accident while I was in the car. Not his first. The worst was when we were on East River Drive in NY City on our way to our son's apartment for Thanksgiving. There were large orange barrels on the left side of the road which my husband didn't notice and crashed into them. It took out one headlight and smashed up the driver's side of the car. We drove home in the dark with only one headlight! It's a 90 minute drive from our son's home to ours.

Our daughter found a form on the Internet from the NY State Motor Vehicle Bureau that a doctor needs to sign and then the Motor Vehicle Bureau will revoke his license. My husband's doctor, head of neurology at a prominent hospital, didn't know about this! He signed the form, but it took three months for the Motor Vehicle Bureau to act. Meanwhile, I tried to drive him wherever, but every morning he insisted on driving to his office although he had retired many years before! Finally, my oldest son and his wife drove out here one evening to pick up all the car keys. It occurred to him that his wife could drive their car back and he could take one of his father's cars. He hid the car at my husband's brother's house! The next night, he came out alone, by train and took the second car. The third car had two flat tires, a dead battery and no keys! My husband was furious. He phoned our son several times a week after that demanding that he return his cars; he was going to have the police arrest him, he was going to cut him out of the will, etc., etc. Luckily, with Alzheimer's, he forgot about his cars after a while and our son endured being yelled at knowing he had done the right thing. The car with the flat tires and dead battery was donated to a charity. I had keys made for the car and emptied out the glove compartment and the console and then it was towed away.

Whenever I drove my husband anywhere after that, he always thanked me! And from time to time he would tell me that he didn't remember where he had parked his car, but he knew he had several cars. But we had finally gotten him off the road. It took more than a year to accomplish this.


To add to the news coming from a professional – remember you need to continue your relationship with your family member, but it is OK for them to be mad at their doctor or other professional. If you disable the vehicle, and you go to a regular (or friendly) car mechanic, have the mechanic tell them the part has not come in for their car whenever they call or you can tell them the sad news as well. This works because they forget how long it has been since the car “broke” down. This worked for one family for over six months and by that time, they had adapted to being without a car.

Barbara Lofthus, Supervisor/Manager Aging Unit Price County Department of Health and Human Services

Here are a few additional tips related to driving and driving cessation:

Contact an occupational therapist and request a driving assessment. Driving evaluations, on-road testing, and strategies to prolong safe driving may be recommended. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has information on Older Driver Safety at Visitors will find information geared to professionals and consumers. Examples of information in the consumer section include: help finding a Driving Rehab Specialist, Driver Safety tips, and ways that the individual can assess their own driver fitness. Retiring from driving is emotionally difficult for many people, especially when driving is a role that the individual has had for decades. Help create transportation options, e.g., ride-sharing, learning how to use public/community transportation, etc. Some individuals with pre-existing conditions respond to information that involvement in a car crash can cause injury and sometimes death to themselves, and may cause harm to their passengers and others, when the driver realizes that at-fault involvement in a crash may take away their savings and intended inheritances. Finally, some people are very attached to their cars and don't want to sell them or give them away to strangers. Donating the car to a good cause or to a young relative can make the senior feel better about giving up the car.

Janie Scott, MA, OT/L, FAOTA

I just had to comment on your article on the “driving” issue. I’ve got one that I’m sure no other caregiver has told you yet….I crashed mom’s car! I told her it cost too much to fix and sold it to a neighbor as “only for pieces.” He is now driving it everywhere and is very happy. Good thing mom doesn’t recognize it every time he drives by. LOL. Well guys, take care of yourselves and my love to you both, sis and mom. Hope to be able to get to see you soon.

Verma Castellanos
The Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation



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