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Features for Senior Citizens

When Are My Driving Days Over? Author Learns from Helping Her Mother

Noted book author offers tips she learned from helping her mother

By Dr. Eva Mor, author of “Making the Golden Years Golden”

Dr. Eva Mor, author of "Making the Golder Years Golden"March 7, 2011 - Several months ago, I was interviewed for a magazine article on the subject of seniors and driving and an uncomfortable question came up. “When should we take away our aging parents' driving license,” I was asked.

I was taken aback by the question, because I never thought about the subject in those terms. “Never,” I replied. Taking away the keys to the car is the only option to consider, and even that is only under extreme cases.

There are seniors deep into their eighties, or even nineties, that are fully functional behind the wheel. There isn't a mandatory age after which they are prevented from driving - as long as their vision, hearing and reflexes are good.


Related Stories


Families Should Check Driving Ability of Senior Citizens During Family Holidays

Consumer Reports Health offers tips for determining when to take the keys away from an older driver - Dec. 7, 2010

Seniors Account for Just 3 Percent of $99 Billion Annual Cost of Motor Vehicle Crashes

CDC Study Finds Cost amounts to nearly $500 for each U.S. licensed driver in one year - Aug. 28, 2010

More links about seniors driving below news story...

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It must be extremely difficult for a fully alert and able person to give up something they have done most of their life that gave them independence and pleasure. Yet most of us only consider the safety issue when confronted with the dilemma of weighing when to end our fathers' and mothers' access to a car. We do not pay much attention to the psychological and emotional issues arising from the decision to stopping their driving.

I recently wrestled with this very issue with my own mother. An eighty-eight year old woman, my mother has reached the point where I believe she should give up her car. The lease on the car has expired, forcing my brothers and myself to make a decision: should we lease her new car or essentially cut her off.

My mother was very forceful about voicing her opinion. She wanted, no needed a new car. I sat down with her a week before her lease expired to review the situation.

The fact is that my mother has been using the car less and less. My brothers or I drive her around to most of her doctor appointments. Even when she goes for a drive in her own car, most of the time, my younger brother is behind the wheel. But it made her feel good just to have the car parked in front of her house. Of course she did not see it that way.

There is no question that as we age we are forced to give up parts of our old life, whether through physical changes - such as giving up tennis, running, or reading if our vision is impaired - or financial changes - moving to smaller place, reducing travel, or giving up a car. It is not easy.

A sense of helplessness or hopelessness may follow. It is important that we all are aware of these feelings that our aging parents are experiencing, and provide a supportive environment for them, reassuring them about the changes in their life.

About Her Book...

"Watching my parents’ age has been quite disheartening, their illnesses slowly eating away at their ability to do simple things that are taken for granted by all of us. 

I have worked most of my adult life with the elderly and the disabled, and was quite unprepared to deal with the emotional connotations of my parents’ situation.  This brought me to the subject of how to improve my parents’ daily life, prolong it, and enrich it…

"In the last few years I headed an agency providing home care. This allowed me to see the quality of daily life in different situations: that of an elderly person residing in a nursing home or in another institutional setting, and that of one residing in his or her own home.  

In this book I examine society’s relationship to and with the elderly, as well as the organized cultural relationship with the aging population today.  Evaluating the impact of today’s family structure on the aged and their lifestyle, and how different this is from the familiar structure in the past, makes it clear how difficult it is to get older in these times…

"This book was written with the premise to help you navigate through the landscape of health systems and guide you through the maze of options that are available to you. The idea is to make it easier for you to evaluate the best choices for your situation. I hope this book will guide you, and help you on this journey. 

For your convenience, the material has been arranged in chapters that concentrate on specific topics relating to aging, needs, and services. Throughout the book you will find cases of real clients of mine and their experiences."

Eva Mor

When you are faced with this issue with your own parents, please consider the following tips:

1.   Give some time for them to adjust to the change in lifestyle and the loss of their driving privileges.

2.   Talk to them about the situation, so the decision is mutual and not imposed on them.

3.   If your parent will not be willing to consider the subject, introduce to a neutral person, whether a friend, clergy member, doctor, etc.

In my mother's case, I have asked her to try to go without a car for three months, and see if she can live without one. If she absolutely cannot, we will see our way to provide her with one. She agreed.

We provided her with adjustment time, allowing her time to get used to the fact that there is no car parked in front of her house. And if we are there to drive her, as we were doing in the last year anyway. In a sense we can steer her way of thinking to realize she doesn't need the car anymore after all. She may not miss the car physically, though she may miss it emotionally.

For more information:

About the Author from her publisher:

Eva Mor was born in Poland to Holocaust survivors. Both her parents lost most of their immediate family to the Nazis. She was born after the war, and her early childhood was in Poland, after which she immigrated to Israel with her family. Dr. Mor adjusted quickly to her life in Israel and loved it there.

The only thing she missed terribly was not having grandparents. Both sets of her grandparents were killed by the Nazis. This fact has colored her professional life. After the obligatory military service, in which she served in the Air Force, she came to the United States where she completed all her higher education.

She has since returned to Israel for two years to do epidemiological research for the World Health Organization of the United Nations. She is an epidemiologist and a health care specialist. She also holds a Masters degree in Gerontology and Health Administration.

For the last 23 years Dr. Mor has dedicated her career to bettering the lives of the elderly. She has done so through work in nursing homes, chronic disease institutions, and acute care hospitals, as well as in home care services. She has been part of planning committees for the improvement of health services for seniors, and has done research to find out what services are available for this specific population, and what should be developed in the future.

With that in mind, Dr. Mor says she set out to write the book “Making the Golden Years Golden”. The book brings to you, with much love and care, the information you need for yourself and those dear to you, in order to make the golden years truly golden, according to the publisher.

More Links to Archived Reports on Senior Citizens and Driving

Elderly Drivers Do Not Lose the Ability to Detect Hazards, More Aware Than Youngest

However, older drivers claim other road users were responsible for putting them at risk and rarely considered themselves as responsible for hazardous events

May 26, 2010

AMA Issues Older Driver Safety Guide to Help Slow Leading Cause of Injury Deaths in Seniors

Per mile driven, fatality rate for drivers 85+ is nine times higher than for drivers 25 to 69

March 17, 2010

Senior Citizen Drivers Setting New Records – For Safe Driving, Fewer Fatal Crashes

Despite growing numbers, fewer older drivers died in crashes and fewer were involved in fatal collisions

Jan. 13, 2009

Florida Vision Test of Elderly Drivers Appears to Reduce Deaths, But No One Knows How

Importance of driving to older adults suggests that isolating the true mechanism responsible for the decline is in fact important

Nov. 10, 2008

Smart Features for Mature Drivers Introduced by AAA at NY Auto Show

Research finds features to improve safety, comfort of senior citizens – booming driver market: AAA starts senior driver Web page

March 25, 2008

Senior Citizens Not As Dangerous Behind the Wheel as Youngest Drivers

Not much more likely to cause auto accidents than baby boomers

July 19, 2007

Aging Committee Leaders Release Older Driver Report Calling for States to Share Information

Older drivers more likely than other age groups to suffer injuries or die in car crashes

April 19, 2007

Study Explores Why Older Drivers Have So Many Wrecks at Intersections?

Protected left turn arrows and roundabouts may help the oldest drivers

March 19, 2007

Elderly Drivers Increasingly More Likely to Die in Auto Accidents

Study looks at age, gender as major factors in severity of accident injuries

January 5, 2007

Senior Citizens Driving with Dementia Are Targets of Training for Physicians

Academy of Neurology says seniors with mild dementia should stop driving

December 28, 2006

Senior Citizens Who Give Up Driving may take Express Lane to Nursing Home

'Taking the keys has serious consequences for older drivers'

July 19, 2006

Senior Citizen Drivers: Are They Menace? Should Licensing Laws Be Tougher?

Safety advocates want tougher licensing for seniors and special vehicles

June 16, 2005

New Guide Available Online to Those Concerned About an Aging Driver

July 6, 2004

Safety for Older Drivers is Goal of New Website

June 26, 2004

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Medical Malpractice -
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