Elders Behind the Wheel: OMG. . . give me the keys!

While driving can mean freedom for our elders, governments and loved ones should consider safety.

Elders Behind the Wheel: OMG. . . give me the keys! posted by Stanton Lawson of Sequoia Senior Solutions   

Guest Blogger Karen Miller  I was behind this big boat of a car in heavy traffic the other day. It appeared to be going down the road without a driver. As I went around the car, I saw a very elderly little lady peeping over the steering wheel.

Scared the daylights out of me then jolted memories from the past. This incident was embedded in my memory by these Senses: sight, touch, hearing and intuition.

Sight sense – I noticed her physical features – age, hair & how she was driving, very slowly.

• Hearing sense – was my own voice saying aloud “she’s 90 and she’s driving”.

• Touch sense – was my own, fear set in and I was gripping the steering wheel.

• Intuition – 6th sense, was my ability to feel these senses and move on.

• Taste sense – not in this example

• Smell sense – not in this example

The more senses involved in a memory the better quality of recollection.

This incident stirred memories of my late parents, who loved to go for rides. We lived in a small town, no freeways or traffic. Going for a ride was part of their entertainment and I might add, it was past down to all of us kids.

I enjoy being behind the wheel where there is no heavy traffic; for some reason it helps me think. Maybe because I recall memories of the rides I had as a kid, more relaxed.

My dear mother lost her ability to drive after her stroke left her paralyzed on right side. Actually, her behind the wheel driving abilities left a little to be desired, especially after she took out a gas station pump and landed in the gas station. It was icy and she was going too fast. {Mom didn’t have the privilege of driving very often. She was always the passenger. She was not experienced much behind the wheel.}

My father’s license was a symbol. . . his freedom. His behind the wheel experiences. . .not so much.

We went to visit my parents and noticed the 2-car garage center column that was separating two areas and was swaying about. I asked what happened and learned dad had bumped into it. This was Memory #1 of a set of memories.

He drove 350 miles to visit our family, got there and rammed into far side of our garage. I still don’t know how he could have done this, but he did. It was summer, Memory #2.

I recently learned he also hit my younger sister’s garage when he visited them, Memory #3.

Now, I’m beginning to think he didn’t like garages OR he couldn’t see garages.

When dad was in his 80’s he went into a nursing home, but still had behind the wheel privileges. He would leave, go for a ride and wouldn’t come back for hours, making the staff a bit nervous.

Surrendering the keys

My older sister, who lived close by talked with him, asked if he remembered how worried he was when mother was driving. Yes, he remembered, then, she told him how worried she was while he was driving.

He didn’t say anything, reached into his pocket, took the keys out and gave them to her. He knew it was time.

Note: I’m sure there were probably many incidents when he was behind the wheel we weren’t aware of.

What is scary is that my parents loved to take the grandkids for a ride and get an ice cream cone. We count our blessings on that one.

Elderly Drivers

It used to be we worried the most about teenage drivers. Today, one of the greatest concerns has become elderly drivers. Most states do not have retesting requirements in place for elderly drivers. With more and more accidents involving elderly drivers, we have to take a look at reasonable steps to protect the public.

Questions To Explore:

  • How old is too old to drive? Should there be an age limit?
  • Should there be mandatory behind the wheel driving tests every five years over a certain age? If yes, what should that age be?
  • There is mandatory reporting of individuals that have had epileptic seizures; however, there is no similar reporting requirement for patients that have strokes or other critical health events. Should there be mandatory reporting related to stroke victims, with the same two year loss of license? 

A little editorializing

I wish the government would step up to the plate and make an age limit law for the elderly and driving. Plus, a law about heights looking over steering wheels, if I can’t see their head, how can they see the road?

I think most elderly would easily give up the keys if there were a law. It is a tough call and many elderly will argue the fact that they can still drive, even though they bump a few things along the way.

©2014 Karen Miller Resources




Related Articles:

Senior Care: Helping Your Loved One With the Loss of Independence

Senior Care Tip: Defensive Driving Courses and Skills for Seniors

Senior Care Video: Should We Take the Keys from Elderly Drivers?


Karen Miller is Owner and Developer of Memory Jogging Puzzles. She started her business in 2007, dedicated to giving elderly and those with Alzheimer’s and Dementia beneficial activities for brain exercise and memory exercise, while giving their families the tools to interact with their loved one. Memory Jogging Puzzles and Memory Games are simplified memory puzzles and card games designed to meet their special needs and to feel achievement and pride.

Themes from The Saturday Evening Post, featuring Norman Rockwell awakens: Memories, Stimulates participation, motivation, conversation and socializing.

PS: Karen has 3 children; 8 grandchildren and “jack” a wire. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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