Tales of Caution: When To Stop Driving

Hi there, my name is Bridget Mackay, I’m an attorney in Petaluma, and I practice in Estate Planning, Trust Administration and Elder Law. And this month my video blogs are about tales of caution.

My tale of caution today is about the little old lady from Pasadena. Why? Because she shouldn’t be driving. It’s a familiar song and we picture that little old lady cruising around in her convertible around town, enjoying herself. But sometimes little old ladies, and little old men shouldn’t be driving. Driving is the one piece of independence we hold on to in our old age, and I’m sure if you have aging parents or aging loved ones, you know that that’s true. So, as loved ones caring for them, we’re very hesitant to take away from them that independence and that right that they have to drive. However, think about this story when you’re hesitating having the conversation with your aging parent.

Mrs. Pasadena was 86 years old and still driving. Not long trips and not driving at night. But really just to church, to the grocery store and other little errands around town. Her family was concerned because she had been involved in a couple of bumps in the grocery store parking lot, and they had driven behind her on occasion or two, and noticed that she was driving slow and not really paying attention to traffic. They thought it might be a good idea to have the conversation with her about giving up her driver’s license and maybe selling the car. When they did, she was adamantly opposed to it, was never going to give up the right to drive and she actually was a very good driver in her own opinion. And the DMV had just renewed her license for another five years. So she was good to go.

You can imagine they were hesitant to ever bring up that topic again. Although you need to know this, you can anonymously request the removal of a driver’s license from the DMV. And so, while they considered making that action, surreptitiously getting it taken from her, Mrs. Pasadena was driving home from the grocery store one day and she sort of rear ended a person on their bike. She wasn’t going that fast, but she hit the cyclist, the cyclist had injuries, was in a hospital for quite some time. He survived the accident, but had extensive medical bills, loss of work, et cetera, all of these things, all of which superseded her insurance coverage. She didn’t have enough insurance coverage. And so they brought a lawsuit against Mrs. Pasadena, and the settlement in the lawsuit nearly wiped out all of her savings.

The moral of the story here is, act quickly when driving becomes a question in you elder’s life. Contact a qualified Estate Planning attorney to guide you through the process of supporting your aging loved one through losing some of that independence and needing more help and support from you. Because in the end, it may be a difficult conversation to have, and it may be a difficult thing to go through but at the end of the day, you are protecting them. You are protecting them in their person, you are protecting other people on the streets, and at the end of the day, you’re also protecting their assets.

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