Posted on June 20, 2012 at 3:44 PM
Thursday, Jun 21 at 1:55 PM
SAN ANTONIO -- Telling elderly loved ones it’s time for them to stop driving is one of the most difficult conversations for families. Now the Alzheimer’s Association is launching a new program to help.
Eighty-eight-year-old Amanda Perry loved to drive to play bridge, to visit friends or go shopping. But dementia was robbing her of her good judgment.
“Oh, yes. She enjoyed the freedom,” said Brenda Richie, Perry’s daughter. “And that was the hard part about losing her ability to drive.”
Driving represents our independence, our autonomy,” stated Ginny Funk with the San Antonio Alzheimer’s Association. “So relinquishing those car keys can be an incredibly emotional and stressful experience.”
That’s why the Alzheimer’s Association has launched a new program called Dementia and Driving. It’s an online tool designed to give families practical ways to deal with a difficult change.
“It actually has four short video scenarios of families having that very difficult conversation,” Funk explained.
Suggested approaches include getting a prescription from a doctor to state they need to stop driving, or pointing out the obvious dangers.
Perry was convinced to stop driving when her family encouraged her to sell her car to her grandson.
“Now that didn’t mean that she was happy with it,” Richie recalled. “But since it was her grandson, she felt a little better about it.”
“My advice would be to take action sooner rather than later,” she added. “You don’t want something to happen.”
The concern over elderly people behind the wheels is only going to get more common. In the next 20 years, the number of drivers over the age of 70 is predicted to triple.
For more information about the Dementia and Driving toolkit, you can call the Alzheimer’s Association Helpline at 1-800-272-3900.