How do you stop your elderly parent driving?
One of the biggest concerns that children often have about their elderly parent is that they should not be driving any more. Whilst an elderly parent might say ‘I am fine, I have insurance’ or ‘I only drive to the shops’, children are often more worried about other road users who could be injured.
Elderly drivers will often self regulate by, for example, not driving at night or only driving small distances. But you might still be worried. If the elderly parent or has a medical condition or takes medication that affects their ability to drive safely, they are under an obligation to notify VicRoads. If you think your elderly parent should not be driving because of a medical condition, you can report them to VicRoads. This can be done anonymously and your identity will not be disclosed. VicRoads is under an obligation to investigate the situation. You can read more about removal of licences and how to report a driver to VicRoads here. Reporting a driver does not mean that the driver’s licence will be revoked. In our experience, some people have not had their licence removed even though they seemed to pose a significant risk to the general public when driving.
If the driver is reported, VicRoads will often seek information from the driver’s medical practitioner. Often the person’s ability to drive safely is not clear and many medical practitioners are very reluctant to state that their patient is no longer capable of driving safely if it is not absolutely clear.
What you should do before the licence is removed
Bear in mind that losing a driver licence is a significant loss of independence for an elderly person. Whilst the person could be close to public transport, many elderly people do not like it. Trams, trains and buses often move before they have taken a seat or can be inaccessible for mobility reasons so they do not feel safe. Taxis are expensive, even with half priced taxis and elderly folk often feel vulnerable. Many elderly are not able to operate an Uber account. Losing a licence could mean that the elderly person becomes socially isolated because they cannot easily get to events or visit family and social isolation is a significant issue for our ageing population.
If you are thinking of reporting your parent or loved one to VicRoads, we recommend that you talk to the elderly person about their options for transport if the licence is lost and put in place some transport alternatives; for example:
- consider applying for a multi purpose taxi program which subsidises taxi fares for pensioners. More details are available here;
- contact the local council to see if they have transport services available. Often there is transport to events which could be beneficial if the person will feel isolated;
- if church is important, contact the church to see if it has volunteers who will take elderly to services;
- hire help who will transport the person. This could be available under home care packages if the elderly person has one or can be done privately; and
- source a professional driver (such as a taxi driver) who the person can get to know and trust and call directly if they need a lift.
If you need help understanding aged care or looking at the options for your elderly parent or loved one, call us on 1800 744 676 for an obligation free chat.
Until next time
Sara and Margaret