Aged parent - should I shop her? - Cliff Pope
Like others I mutter that they shouldn't be on the road when encountering some old dear or a man in a hat pottering along at 25mph.
Now I notice that my mother, aged 81, is hardly able to drive competently. She is probably not actually dangerous, yet, just a slow-moving traffic hazzard. Apart from not being able to reverse, her most serious failing is an inability to change down from 3rd to 2nd, I think because of the wrist movement. Her tactic when forced to is to pull into the side of the road and start again.
Should I report her to somebody? DVLA? Doctor? Police? She and my father, who doesn't drive, are totally dependent on the car for their one short shopping trip a week, so being forced off the road would be a major blow to their independence.

Is there an anonamous mechanism for these cases, or will she immediately guess I am to blame and cut me out of her will?
Sorry, this sounds flippant, but is a serious dilema really.
What would you do?
Aged parent - should I shop her? - Adam {P}
Your own mum?


Red light? Hold on...that means.......Go?
Aged parent - should I shop her? - owen
Right or wrong, you cannot shop your own mum, however dangerous she is! You and your dad need to have a chat to her, and explain your concerns, and suggest that it may be time she stopped driving. If they only use the car for a weekly shopping trip then offer to pay for a taxi, or to take them yourself.
Aged parent - should I shop her? - Mark (RLBS)
I agree with Owen. Its your Mother, you've got to talk to her about it. And, if you're right, you've got to be pretty strong if that's required.

"Shopping" her might be ok if you've spoken to her and she refuses to listen and she truly is a danger, but is a pretty wimpy way out of things if you haven't.

If you can afford it, open an account for her at the local taxi company and get the bills sent to you. That will still leave them with a level of independance that using you for a lift would not give them.
Aged parent - should I shop her? - billy25
bless her!
if she's medically fit, her eyesight is o.k, then she's no more of a slow moving hazard than a tractor/horse/cyclist!.
if your in her will, you should suggest/buy her a small automatic with parking sensors, and be glad that their not housebound and a burden.i also would like to be driving at 81(god-willing) and i don't think i would like anyone taking me off the road,well meaning or not!.
let them continue to enjoy their motoring.
Aged parent - should I shop her? - Stonk
I'd bring up subtle hints and make them more pressing as time progresses. She might be slow which in itself is not a problem but her reaction time in todays fast moving traffic could be hazardous.
For an 81 year old, after years of driving a manual to change to automatic won't be advisable. She'll be in the nearest hedge before you've finished waving her off.
Aged parent - should I shop her? - L'escargot
I tnink that a serious conversation with her is called for, discussing the pros and cons of electric invalid scooters, but playing down the word "invalid" which I'm sure she isn't.
L'escargot by name, but not by nature.
Aged parent - should I shop her? - helicopter
Now deceased and sadly missed father in law wrote off a 626 and a Civic within the space of a year when he was around 84 and seriously considered giving up driving.

First occasion was on a very wet day and he skidded on braking and totalled the car into a bridge parapet.

Second time he fell asleep at the wheel and drove straight on at a roundabout resulting in a call from the local Casualty Dept..

I drove for him as much as possible after that and I suggest you try and organise the weekly shopping trip with her so that you drive.

I'd also get her to see the doctor for a physical check up.Old folks tend to take advice from a Doctor that they won't take from the offspring.

Alternatively if you need the money in the will the correct mechanism is (so I'm told) a hacksaw to the brake pipes...

Seriously - Don't shop her , make the time to help her. You'll miss her when she's gone.

Aged parent - should I shop her? - DougB
If you have the same family doctor it could be mentioned to them, but you would have to be sure they would handle it very carefully. Don't shop her to anyone else!
Your dad may well be a bit 'nervous' about the weekly shopping trip anyway so speak to him first. Take the 'much cheaper to take a taxi' line and mention it every few weeks.
Old people need an excuse to stop driving and it must not be anything to do with themselves! MOT/annual service time is very popular because of the expense.
Good luck with this. Regards DougB.
Aged parent - should I shop her? - Dude - {P}
As mentioned previously, the last person in the world you want to shop is your own dear Mother.!!!

I know if it was my Mother and she lived not too far away from where you live, I would either get her shopping for her, or order it for her via the internet, from one of the major supermarkets, for delivery direct to her home.

IMHO this needs to be discussed and actioned ASAP, before she is involved in an accident, and somebody is seriously injured, for which you would carry on your conscience for the rest of your life.!!!
Aged parent - should I shop her? - volvod5_dude
You can't be serious, have a quiet word about the advantages of taking a taxi to do the weekly shop, probably cheaper than running a car in the long run. My old Mum uses taxi's now for her weekly trip to the shops, far less hassle for her and other motorists.
Aged parent - should I shop her? - Cardew
I know most 80+ year olds are not on the internet, but do Tesco/Sainsbury deliver to your parents area?

I suspect that this will be the salvation for todays Silver Surfers when they become less mobile.

Aged parent - should I shop her? - Rebecca {P}
Re supermarket deliveries - your parents won't need their own account/internet set up. You could place the order based on their list and select their address for delivery.

Aged parent - should I shop her? - BobbyG
Another angle on this is that maybe your mum knows that she is not fit to drive but doesn't want to admit it, the usual excuses - don't want to be a burden etc etc.

Therefore I would go down any one of the avenues mentioned - persuade her on the cost route, taxis better etc and you may well be surprised with her reaction. It may be the prompt that she has been waiting on!
Aged parent - should I shop her? - marilyn
Apart from the dilemma of actually shopping your much loved mother I think that you would find it surprisingly difficult to get doctor, police or DVLA to take any notice anyway. My own dear dad is still driving at 84 even though the only way he can turn the ignition key is by using a pair of pliers due to arthritis. He walks with two sticks, slowly, but drives fast and stops eventually! My elderly neighbour was in the advanced stages of senile dementia complete with horrific hallucinations and her son still couldn't get her driving licence taken away from her. This was despite her often leaving the car in the middle of busy roads as she had seen someone in the passenger seat who was headless or armless or worse! When her GP, the local police and the DVLA were uninterested he solved the problem by removing the fuse from the garage doors and the battery from the remote which operates them! Doctors are loathe to take away elderly peoples independence and elderly people, like the rest of us,find it hard to admit to the fact that they are no longer as young as they were. Talk to your mother like I talk to my dad but don't expect miracles !
Aged parent - should I shop her? - harry m
had the same problem with my father quite a few years ago my mother was petrified to go shopping with him but he would not listen to no 1 son.he only stopped after he knocked someone off there push bike(not hurt thankfully) they then had to use the bus,(they had buses in horsted keynes in those days) and everyone heaved a great sigh of relief.hope it does not get to this with you.
Aged parent - should I shop her? - MrWibble
Assuming that its just the arthritis in the wrist and she is otherwise OK - why not an automatic ? We all seem to be assuming she is blind/poor driver (other than gear issue)/unable to comprehend an automatic and then bringing up all sorts of horror stories of their grandparents/out-laws.

Why not buy her a couple of driving lessons in an automatic for Xmas ? This should be a good test of her competence in a setting where mistakes can be corrected without issue, the cost is not likely to be much in comparison to an accident, it can be sold to her as "solving the wrist problem" rather than a statement that she should give up and the objective assessment of an instructor could help swing the debate to continue in an auto or go the taxi route.

Aged parent - should I shop her? - Mondaywoe
Just been there! My Mum (77) still drives and so did her sister (84)......until a few months ago. The two of them would go out for a drive together and my Mum would be in absolute fear of her life driving with my aunt - but couldn't tell her!

Sadly it all came to a climax back in January. My aunt was out on her own and (claimed) she was blinded by the sun in the high street. For some inexplicable reason she managed to clip the back offside of a parked car and drive right up over it - coming to rest at an angle of 45 degrees with her nearside wheels up on the roof of the parked car!!!

She absolutely denies it was anything more than a minor knock - but in the local newspaper the following morning there emerged the sensational story that workers had to run from a nearby building site and prop up her Metro with scaffolding poles to stop it falling over! She only sustained a minor dent in the nearside wing - but split the steering rack in two!!!!!Fortunately, although shaken, she was not physically hurt in any way.

Police were called - she was charged. Court came along and her solicitor had a word with the Procurator Fiscal (Scotland) Apparently, they did some sort of deal - if she agreed to hand in her licence to DVLA the charges would be dropped - and so it came to pass.

Now.....she frets almost daily on the loss of her car - and her independence. It has made the most incredible psychological impact on her life. She still maintains that she was hard done by and the whole thing was blown out of proportion. Whether she blanked out at the time of the crash or simply cannot come to terms with the extent of her incompetence, we'll never know.

Needless to say, we are deeply sorry for her - yet glad she was 'taken out' without injury or serious damage. That parked car could have been a child.............

My mum - is still driving. She thinks she's OK and would, I think be more self-critical of her own driving in the light of her sister's experience. The difference, mind you, is simply this - my mum was always a good driver, my aunt never was! Even when young, I can recall my aunt rasping gears, parking badly, shying clear of a reverse manoeuvre etc.

My feeling is that'good' drivers are such because they are continually self-critical and self-aware. As they age, they compensate for the ageing process and remain safe. Poor drivers, on the other hand, who lack this self-awareness just get progressively worse as they age and become increasingly dangerous.

Aged parent - should I shop her? - Reggie
This is exactly what happened to my neighbour who was about 83 at the time. As his car got more dents by the month, eventually he hit a car in a queue at some traffic lights. The police attended and basically it was agreed that if he would surrender his licence, he would hear no more, as it was a no injury accident. He had no choice really, but at least he got to drive an electric bath chair to and from the shops. The irony is he was more dangerous in that, scraping peoples cars that were parked on the pavement as he went by and veering across the road.
Aged parent - should I shop her? - teabelly
Perhaps a change of car with a different gear shift location? One of the ones with a console mounted gear shift might make it easier for her to change gear. You could suggest that if she does have difficulty changing down perhaps she should go and try lots of different cars until she finds one that doesn't hurt her to change gear. Alternatively she could try a left hooker or a car with a column shift! My great aunt had great difficulty in changing gear with her left hand. So she didn't and reached over with her right hand instead. Very scary to see the knotted limbs needed for turning into a side road...

Medical intervention and some bandaging may also improve her wrist as would physio if she can't find a car that doesn't cause her trouble. Perhaps one of the newer semi automatics with hill start control and such like might be safe enough. Does any manufacturer make an auto with a special manoeuvering gear that wouldn't allow the car to go over walking pace?

Her problem with reversing maybe one of mobility in her neck. If she can't turn round properly then she won't be able to do it well. Some further instruction in how to reverse using the mirrors rather than trying to turn her head round might help her.

You really need to talk to her as it sounds like she isn't really dangerous just hasn't got used to the fact she is getting older and that she can't do things in the same way as she used to.
Aged parent - should I shop her? - PhilW
It's a very difficult situation, and I doubt whether people of this age would cope very well with a change of car with all the controls in slightly different positions. I was in a similar position with my dad (81 like your mum) when he was faced with a £400 bill on his old Pug 309. We had a very sensible chat about it (aided by good advice from this forum) and he decided that he would pay the bill even though he was considering giving up driving (he's actually still very good - I have no worries as his passenger). But, we decided that if it came to spending a few thousand quid on a new car (plus insurance, tax, maintenance etc) it would be far easier for him to use taxis - you can get a hell of a lot of taxis for the price of a car. He doesn't use his car for long journeys - the train is far less stressful so just uses it for Tescos, church on Sunday and going out in the evening (he has quite a good social life and reckoned taxis are better because he can have his beer, wine, single malt etc and he also wouldn't have others cadging lifts!)
I would suggest a gentle chat extolling the virtues of taxis! But take it easy - oldies, as you no doubt know! are very resistant to change and the suggestion that they are no longer "competent" Go on about the advantages of taxis rather than the disadvantages of her driving!
good luck - let us know how you get on!
Aged parent - should I shop her? - Cliff Pope
Many thanks indeed to you all. There are some really useful ideas here to ponder on. Perhaps I had been too quick to discount the value of simple talk and communication.
The automatic option on the face of it sounds simple, but she has never been the fastest on the uptake with any unfamiliar car or machine. Anyway I feel the problem is really one of a slowing-up mind, rather than just a specific physical one like a joint.
I think the taxi option looks best, now we need to work on it gradually so that it seems as her idea to face realities, rather than the family trying to interfere.
I did not really contemplate 'shopping' her, not yet anyway, but these things do lead on to much more serious events as one correspondent recorded.

Frightening to think we'll all be there one day!

Thanks again.
Aged parent - should I shop her? - Galaxy
I'm very interested to see this thread on HJ's BR because this is exactly what my family went through last year regarding my Father, who is very shortly to be 87.

My Brother said that he should be made to give up driving, even if this meant reporting him to the authorities, because he was now a terrible driver! My opinion was that it was totally wrong to report him to anyone, and, in any case, his driving record didn't bear out what my brother was saying.

It is a fact that, when he shopped around for a different insurance company a few years ago, none of them wanted to know. However, I believe this was simply due to his age, and not because of any blotts on his driving receord. I had never considered that trying to obtain motor insurance when you are very old was just as difficult as trying to obtain it when you are very young, but it would appear to be the case.
In championing by Fathers cause, I further stated that to attempt to stop him driving would take away a large part of his independence. It's also an interest for him, owning a car, as he can go out and clean it and do a few minor things, but not very much these days. At the time he was giving my youngest Niece a lift to the station everyday, which also bothered my Brother. He has never driven very far, in recent years, and only goes to places that he knows. He certainly isn't about to jump into his car and drive a couple of hundred miles up a motorway!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I'm pleased to say that he is still driving, but less-so that he was. My Niece has told him that she is now getting a lift to the station from her friend who has a car and works uptown as she does herself. The only driving my Father now does is to go about three miles shopping once a week and to go for a walk on Sunday, which is about a similar distance. Oh, and he visits me on Sunday afternoon most weekends, but that's only about 0.75 miles.

It could be said that he shouldn't be driving at all, which I except could be a well reasoned arguement. However, he says that he still wants to drive, and I myself feel we have to be very careful trying to stop someone doing something "because it might be dangerous!" I think we have more than enough of this culture these days already.

I have previously pointed out to him that, for the small annual mileage that he now drives, it would be considerably cheaper for him to travel everywhere by taxi, and this still does remain an option for future consideration should his situation significantly change.

I share the concerns and thoughts of all others who have contributed to this interesting thread. As you rightly say, Cliff, we'll all be there one day!

Aged parent - should I shop her? - doctorchris
Even if you do not share a GP with your mother you are still entitled to arrange an appointment to see that GP and express your concerns. The GP could then arrange for you to bring your mother along to professionally assess her fitness to drive. If the GP thought she was unfit he would have a duty to tell her and to notify the DVLA. Most GP's would handle this gently and diplomatically.
Aged parent - should I shop her? - Captain Alex Zippy O' Toole
Compulsory retests at 65, and every five years thereafter.

Job done.

Doesn't have to be a full "normal" driving test, just a basic analysis of core competencies, reaction times, dealing with the unexpected etc etc.

If the old person fails the test, their licence is revoked until such time as they can pass the test.

It's all very well saying it's a terrible thing to take away an old person's independence, but it's even more terrible when their doddery old eyes and limbs fail them and they plough into the back of a child on a pushbike, crippling him for life.

The explanation? "Didn't see him until it was too late and missed the brake pedal" - turned out the old dear could hardly see straight, and had reaction times that'd shame a snail.

"Oohh but I've been driving for fifty years and I've never had an accident....."
Aged parent - should I shop her? - MrWibble
Extending the line of argument - why not compulsory re-tests from 17 as a condition of insurance - the airline industry insists on regular check rides to test competency in flying.
Aged parent - should I shop her? - OldPeculiar
Probably because most people would fail (I would since I often cross my hands when turning the steering wheel) leading to no-one being able to get to work (apart from those who drive without insurance) I doubt many people who've been driving a few years would pass the test, we've all developed a couple of 'bad' habits.
Aged parent - should I shop her? - doctorchris
Just musing but isn't it sad that that the young and fit can drive where ever they want (and are often the ones to park as near to the supermarket front door as possible) when they could walk or cycle, then just as your mobility starts to fail and the car is really needed other faculties fail (intellect, eyesight, hearing) and bang goes your licence.
Same argument as how when you are young you could find plenty to spend money on if you had it, the elderly often have the money but can't find things to spend it on.
Aged parent - should I shop her? - Maz
Comparing Cliff's mum to a drink driver is assinine - she's 'probably not dangerous' remember.

People's abilities are wonderfully various at all ages and I'm not comfortable when people start judging others by numbers, colours or badge.

It might be quite easy really. A few open questions about her driving should be easy to ask. Please don't go down the 'does she take one lump or two' avenue. It leads to queer street.
Aged parent - should I shop her? - GrumpyOldGit
The sentimentality of 'you can't shop your Mother' amazes me. Would the same people also not shop mum if she was a drunk driver?

How is Cliff going to feel if his poor Mother kills someone with her car? What if mum is the one who is injured in a crash? If talking to her and the other eminently sensible suggestions don't work, what's left? Take no further action and hope no-one gets hurt?

Cliff, I agree that an automatic at this stage of life would be even more dangerous for your Mother. You are on the right track. My best wishes that it works out well for you both.

CAZO'T - absolutely right mate. Retests are the obvious solution. There are an awful lot of people way under 65 that should be retested as well! Maybe everyone should be retested, say, 5 years after passing the initial test?
Aged parent - should I shop her? - Welliesorter
I'm surprised that no-one has directly quoted Honest John's advice to elderly people contemplating getting an automatic: '...I recommend elderly drivers to to think very carefully before making a switch from a lifetime of manuals to an automatic. Often it's too late to safely make the change.' Admittedly a couple of the responses have expressed similar sentiments.

See for the full explanation.
Aged parent - should I shop her? - pdc {P}
My dad voluntarily gave up his license at 80, because he felt that he may no longer be up to scratch on the road.

Value my car