Dr Phil: Don’t Let My Mom Behind The Wheel
Dr Phil said that there are perks to aging, including being wiser and happier. But Dementia and other brain disorders can also be a cloud to that silver lining. Dr Phil shared a news report about an 86-year-old grandfather who drove the wrong way on a freeway.
The onset of Dementia caused him to get lost after taking his wife to church. “He couldn’t find his way back home, so he has been driving since 6:00 in the morning,” his daughter said in a news report. New York state trooper John DeVoe took action to close the lanes and stop the driver before he could hurt anyone.
Dr Phil: Still Driving At 86?
The grandfather was treated and released from a hospital, but his driving days are over. Dr Phil welcomed Pfizer’s chief medical officer, Dr Freda Lewis-Hall, to weigh in about this common issue.
An audience member said her 86-year-old mother lives alone and has Dementia. “She is still driving,” and though she does well, sometimes she forgets where she is going. Since the woman does not want to give up driving, the daughter does not know how to navigate this difficult new area of the relationship.
Dr Phil: What is Dementia?
“Dementia is a group of symptoms. It can be characterized by declines in memory, in thinking skills, in language, and in behavior,” Dr Lewis-Hall said, which begins to interfere with daily routines and activities.
Dr Phil: Dementia Warning Signs
Dr Lewis-Hall said that Dementia, not age, is the concern in this situation. There are driving behaviors to look out for, including:
- Failing to observe traffic signs
- Making slow or poor decisions in traffic
- Driving at an inappropriate speed
- Becoming angry or confused while driving
- Getting lost in familiar places
Dr Phil: Dementia & Driving
Terry in the audience said that her mother insists she will know when it is time to give up driving and move out of her home. But she told Dr Phil that her mom is keeping things from her, including a car accident which was not her fault.
Dr Phil and Dr Freda Lewis-Hall agreed that it is not an easy conversation, but you should do it as early as possible. “Independence is key,” she said, so consider how to incorporate freedom and choice into new alternatives.
Dr Phil: When To Stop Driving
She suggested making an appeal regarding the safety of others, which could be effective depending on the person. She said that it may take a series of conversations, and you may need reinforcement from family members or trusted community advisors, including clergy, a physician, attorney, or very close family friend.
Dr Phil said you could take away the car keys, disable the car, or remove it completely as a last resort to keep your loved one and others safe. Additional resources are available from Pfizer’s Get Healthy, Stay Healthy website.