Last week, you may have read Prince Philip, the 97-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, overturned his Land Rover in a car crash on a rural road north of London.  He was unhurt; two women in an oncoming minivan suffered scrapes and a broken wrist.

It is not known exactly what happened or who was at fault. The prince told police officers at the scene that he was momentarily blinded by the sun while pulling onto a main thoroughfare.  The incident has prompted some reflection in Britain about when an aging driver ought to consider surrendering the car keys. Sound familiar? The question has long tormented families we work with along with families everywhere.

According to AAA, there are some common warning signs that are really an indication that it is time to talk to your parents about their ability to continue driving.

1) If there is confusion between the gas and brake pedals or if there is difficulty in working them. If they lift their legs to move from the gas to the brakes instead of keeping a heel on the floor and pressing with their toes. This can be a sign of waning leg strength.    

2) If they appear to ignore or miss traffic signals especially stop signs.

3) When the traffic stream is moving slowly, see if they tend to honk or pass other drivers. This can be an indication that they have a tough time keeping pace with fast-changing conditions.

4) If you notice they are weaving or straddling lanes. Not signaling when changing lanes or checking mirrors and blind spots is especially dangerous.

5) Any type of cognitive decline could lead to becoming disoriented and getting lost easily.   

In many cases, talking to your parent’s doctor about your concerns may prove to be your best bet. Just as we always listened to anyone but our parents, the same holds true here: in many cases our parents will usually heed the advice of their doctors over ours.

Below is a link to the AAA Senior Driving website where you will find information for family members of a senior driver on how to have the conversation about giving up the keys.

Conversations About Driving

About Jerry

Jerold E. Rothkoff, a practicing New Jersey and Pennsylvania attorney, is the Principal of the Rothkoff Law Group, an elder care law firm. Jerry dedicates his practice to serving clients in the areas of life care planning, long-term care planning, Medicaid & VA benefits, and advocacy for the elderly and disabled. He is past President of the NJ Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, former chair of the elder law section of the NJ State Bar Association, and past President of the Life Care Planning Law Firm Association. Jerry continues to be an outspoken advocate for the rights of the elderly and disabled. He writes for and gives presentations regularly to attorneys and other professionals about legal issues related to seniors and those with disabilities. Jerry’s community activities include the Twilight Wish Foundation, the Delaware Valley Stroke Council, the Alzheimer’s Association, as well as numerous other advocacy groups. When not in the office, Jerry spends time with his wife, Erica, and their five children, eighteen-year old identical twin girls, Liza and Julia, fifteen-year old fraternal twin boys, Evan and Gregory, and six-year old Aitan.

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