Elderly drivers: When to take a loved one’s car keys away

“Not just for her benefit but the benefit of children, pedestrians, and other people on the road.”
Published: Oct. 30, 2020 at 7:12 AM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - Our independence is important to all of us, and driving helps us keep that independent. Unfortunately as we age failing eye sight and cognitive decline can make driving dangerous. It creates a conversation no family wants to have, taking away the keys from an elderly family member.

Juliene Hill told us the thought process as she and her brother had to take the car keys away from her mother.

“Not just for her benefit but the benefit of children, pedestrians, and other people on the road. We didn’t want to have to deal with law suits or anything like that,” said Hill.

For families concerned about a senior driver it’s important to game plan.

“The important thing for families, you really need to have a designated person that’s going to have these conversations with that senior driver,” said Matthew Conde with AAA Idaho. “So that as things are getting worse, you have sort of a pre-arranged set of discussions that if we get to this point this is what we’re going to do.”

Conde says there are also ways to limit a seniors driving before taking the keys all together.

“So maybe just a smaller adjustment, so we’re not taking away the keys entirely at first but we’re having a conversation about night time driving, or driving during rush hour or driving on the freeway,” said Conde

This can be difficult as they feel like their independence is being taken away, even those it’s for their safety and the safety of other. If needed there is some help available to help convince them.

“We do, there’s a form we can fill out to get submitted right to the state,” said Deputy Brook Prudent with the Twin Falls Sheriff’s department. “And they can do evaluations and re-testing on specific individuals.”

This can bring out many emotions in the whole family, but sometimes hard choices must be made to keep everyone safe.

“She didn’t like it at all and we didn’t like it but we knew it was for the best and sometimes you have to do what’s best,” said Hill.

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