Time for “The Talk”?

In January, 97 year old Prince Phillip, who is the husband of Queen Elizabeth, was in a car accident.  Although the Prince’s car flipped upside down after striking another vehicle, he was able to walk away from the accident after a good Samaritan helped him to escape from the car.  Fortunately, there were no major injuries from the mishap. 

Whether the Prince will continue to drive is unknown.  According to the Washington Post, only the Queen is likely to be able to take his keys away.  Driving has been one of his pleasures throughout his life.  In fact, in 2016 he personally chauffeured President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama during their state visit.

There are no age limits on who may drive a car, and seniors may be reluctant about giving up driving privileges.  No one wants to lose independence and mobility, becoming reliant upon others for transportation.  Still, as one ages, one’s reflexes decline, and the ability to handle a car, especially at higher speeds, may be compromised.

It’s been recommended by some that those whose parents are in their 80s may want to consider having a frank discussion about how much longer the parents can drive safely.  However, I don’t approve of using people’s age as the sole determining factor in whether they should have restrictions placed on their driving.  Some people are perfectly capable of driving when they are in their 80s or even 90s, and others at much younger ages are not.  I would be in favor of advocating that when people note that a family member and/or loved one has become physically or mentally impaired to the point that it appears to make it hazardous for them to drive, then they should plan the hard conversation.

I use the word plan because typically people who have become impaired will only agree to undergo evaluation if strongly encouraged by a number of people they love and trust.  So the first difficult conversation is among friends and family members.  In real life, getting everyone in the family to agree to have the difficult conversation with the impaired individual is very tough.

I could go on and on about this, because it is a situation I have dealt with many times, and it will become a bigger and bigger issue as life expectancies increase.  If you are interested in further discussion, you are welcome to contact me at dross@tckansas.com.

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