Q. We think that an elderly aunt is showing symptoms of cognitive brain decline and we're terrified she will cause an accident while driving. We tried to talk with her about her driving skills but "all hell broke loose" to put it mildly. What do we do now?
A. Admittedly, this can be not only a touchy situation but also one with potential safely and legal concerns. Most family members want to retain a good relationship with the individual and still be responsible citizens in terms of safety for everyone.
Sometimes an opportunity pops up when the car needs repair or relicensing or when the individual gets an eye exam that shows less than stellar eye function. Sometimes the individual will acquiesce to a written prescription by their doctor: "You are not to drive a motorized vehicle on public roads."
Recently I heard of a family who confronted a very headstrong elderly father with this proposition: "We obviously have differing perspectives on your driving ability. We have made an appointment with a driver's rehabilitation specialist for an independent safety assessment. If the specialist believes you are still a safe driver, then we will no longer talk about your driving." Interestingly, the rehab specialist said their father was still capable of driving safely, which just goes to show that sometimes family members can be a bit overly concerned.