Lately, there has been a vast amount of reports in the News that frowns against elderly drivers. It is a controversial argument of whether or not senior drivers should be allowed to operate a motor vehicle due to recent events of fatal crashes where the elderly drivers are at fault. I believe that it should be a self choice when there are no short term memory issues or dementia involved because we all know what we are capable of and if a person has any sort of doubt in their driving skills that they should turn in their keys for the safety and lives of others.

I recently came across an inspirational article in AAA Horizons Newspaper, ‘Keeping the Keys’ for seniors and families by Aimee Carrier, that really shows empowerment in being elderly. The article featured an elderly man who voluntary gave up his driving license. Joe Boudreau fought as a U.S. Navy man in World War II where he had to drive, although he did not even have his license! He got his license when he was 20 years of age in 1947. For someone who has been driving even before having a license and had the poise to swallow his pride and give up an everyday privilege is inspiring. I cannot speak for everyone else, but I would not be able to get by without my car as materialistic as that sounds, it’s the truth, which is why this article really hit a soft spot for me.

Joe says, “It was a hard decision to make, but for me, I didn’t want to cause an accident where I hurt someone else,” he said. “Once you get in an accident, it’s too late.”

I feel that Joe is a very strong, caring man because as his eyesight started to decline, along with his driving skills, he took it upon himself to think not only of himself, but about the other drivers on the road with him. He would never want to cause any harm to others by getting into an accident, so Joe wanted to fix the situation before it became a problem. It is encouraging because he made the decision to give up his keys all by himself without any sort of intervention from his family or anything.

AAA is offering a seminar called “Keeping the Keys”. This seminar is a program for elderly drivers that help with determining when it’s time for a driver to give up driving for good. The seminar offers techniques for keeping driving skills sharp. The program also includes a series of discussions such as warning signs for when it’s time to stop operating motor vehicles. It also provides tips for family members in approaching their loved ones about not driving. I think that this program is a great place to start for families that have noticed a decline in their loved ones mental status as a family sometimes some tough love is called for in asking for a parent to hand over their keys. I once took care of a lady with no family involvement and whose power of attorney was a neighbor. This lady had dementia but was still driving around. The neighbor had no idea that her dementia was as advanced as it was. I had to tell him that she definitely was a danger on the road and she could not drive any more. It comes to the point that you as a family or power of attorney have to make these difficult decisions for loved ones safety and for all the other drivers on the road. The nature of dementia is cruel, every day is different and god forbid that your loved one drives into a crowd of pedestrians or even into the South Shore Plaza because they didn’t recognize where they were or what they were doing. You, as their nearest and dearest, can prevent this from happening!

Best Wishes!
Maria Burke

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