Father and Driving

stir_fryiAugust 20, 2012

My father will be 84 this year and is talking about buying a new car.

He is in good health, mentally and physically. Vision is great, hearing is so-so (no hearing aid, but loud TV). I believe the only meds he takes is for high blood pressure.

He drives everyday (not far though) -- just errands. In the winter he won't go out if he feels the roads are bad.

He has never had an accident or even a fender bender.

My DH keeps saying he has no business buying a new car at his age and exactly how long does he plan on driving?? I guess what I am asking is what do you look for as far as deciding if someone shouldn't drive anymore?

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Your father sounds like someone I am happy to share the road with.

He certainly does not seem to be at the point of having to give up his license. My own father drove competently and safely well into his 80's. Like your father, he was very aware of his limitations (he rarely drove at night or in bad weather,) and he greatly valued being able to run his own errands, visit local nature reserves to do a little birding, and so forth. He was in the habit of trading in for a new car every 2-3 years.

I would take the approach of encouraging your father to find a super-safe, reliable, and fuel-efficient model. Some friends just bought a new vehicle and I am amazed at the safety-forward features that are coming onto the market - self-parking, audible blind-spot warning, enhanced backup mirrors and view screens, multiple air bags, automatic headlight controls, and more.

Even if something happens (sooner or later) that results in your father giving up his license, a relatively new car is not really a financial liability and can always be sold.

IMHO, I don't see any reason why your father can't continue to drive, and if he wants the fun and excitement of shopping for and enjoying a new toy, I say let him.

Perhaps you could start a dialog with him, first making it clear that you are not trying to talk him out of the new car and acknowledging his lifeling stellar driving habits. Then, ask him what he would consider some criteria for when his driving should be re-evaluated. Or bring his doctor into the discussion as well.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 2:58PM
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Connie Kru

I would let him buy a new, safe car. But before doing so, I would take a ride with him. Do you feel safe riding with him, if so LET HIM GO FOR IT!!!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 9:04AM
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Thanks. I think my DH is basing his opinion strictly on age and nothing else.

I have driven with him and I feel he is fine. Also, my mother (who no longer drives) is around and will tell me if he has any "close-calls."

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 1:22PM
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A lot of people are good drivers in their 80's. My dad was but when he hit 90 he had to give up his license (DMV) makes it almost impossible for them to pass driving test, lights on lights off brake lights,horn, back up go forward(but teenager getting checked out had to adjust mirror,use signal, put on brake & emergency lights & off they went. Old folks got a drill sgt. Anyway your dad will enjoy his car & his independence & DH will not like it when that ends & you & him get to drive them everywhere, get their groceries, take them to dr. office etc. Let him drive while he is capable because once he has to give it up he will age quickly & you will wonder what happened. Losing independence is worst thing most seniors have to go through & they do not adjust well.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 5:44PM
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Let him drive. I know someone that drove well into her 90's. If I was in my right mind, no one would stop me from driving as long I wasn't have wrecks.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 9:04PM
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My best friend's Mom drove well into her eighties. But she stayed close to home, would only drive in daylight in good weather. For example, she'd drive to the local bank and library.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 9:37AM
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We couldn't stop Mom from driving for 10 years after her doctor told her to stop. Then the car died and sister gratefully told the mechanic to take his time replacing the engine. Next thing I hear is Mom's siblings are furious that we took the car and were hiding it from her. Now that the car is back, she is telling everybody, in vivid detail, how she was out driving one day and realized she was too old to drive, came home and handed the keys to Sister. We try to be amused.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 7:00PM
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I think it's not a matter of numerical age, but cognitive ability, specifically multi-tasking ability. Ride with him. See how he handles decision making with multiple stimuli. Err on the side of safety. You don't want him crashing into a school bus.

When I told my 88 year old father that I wanted him to relinquish his driver's license, he was unhappy and resistant. But I insisted that he needed to trust my judgement, and he did. He still doesn't fully understand why I did this, but I sleep better. Cognitive limitations limit self-awareness. We have to intervene.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 6:39PM
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I agree, let him enjoy his freedom! If he can afford a new car, why not ?

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 7:23AM
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I agree with LaVerne. If you are worried the car will outlive hm, remember it will be part of his Estate.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 9:41AM
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My mother moved to be closer to her children after our father died. She was not satisfied in the apartment my sister found for her, and I said "buy a house". She said she couldn't until her house out of state sold; when I mentioned a house loan, she said that had not occurred to her.
( wouldn't it be nice if we all thought like that-don't buy anything you can't pay cash for). Anyway , her house did sell, she had a house built the way she wanted, and she is much happier. Did I mention she is 83? She drives, but stays close to home because she realizes her limitations.
I hope your father got his new car. Buying new cars is fun!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 6:21AM
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