Trading the Car Keys for a Bus Pass
Role of the Family Physician continued...
Some physicians, warns Carr, do not want to get this involved.
They may just refer the driver to a physical therapist specializing in
retraining drivers. In other cases, courses and tips are available from both
and the American Association of Automobiles (www.seniordrivers.org) . The 55Alive
program from AARP has been taken by 6 million people thus far, but Carr says
this is mostly for the self-aware driver who wants a refresher course, rather
than the true road menace.
In the latter case, Carr clearly communicates his doubts about
the patient's physical fitness to drive. "I say, 'You need to stop
driving.' I also put it in writing (for a contract you can have the person sign
to that effect, go to www.thehartford.com/alzheimers/agreement.html)."
It'simportant, too, he says, that a family member be present for this
If the individual does not quit driving, Carr writes to the
authorities and asks that the person's license be revoked. Even this can become
a problem, however, in that sometimes people whose judgment is impaired will
drive without a license or even buy another car if theirs is confiscated. In
some cases, a family member may even need to file down the ignition key or
remove the battery.
On a More Positive Note
Marottoli says family intervention works better if the
individual is involved from the start and has some control in the matter.
Otherwise, anger and depression can be the result.
Marottoli urges that family members and friends come up with
some plan for alternative transportation that includes not just the
necessities, such as medical visits, but the stops that make the person's life
rich and full, such as plays or museums. Some suggestions:
- Taxis, even on a daily basis, can cost less than a car payment, insurance,
taxes, and gas
- Many cities have public buses, subways, or ride-on buses for the
- Friends, relatives, and teens needing money can drive the person to
appointments or the mall
- Many places deliver -- grocery stores, pharmacies, and the like
- Some hairdressers make home visits
- Some senior centers provide transportation to local malls
- Place an ad in the paper for someone to drive the person as needed
"Once people quit," Marottoli comments, "they often
say they appreciate how much more relaxed they feel. It dawns on them that
driving has been contributing to a lot of anxiety."