One of the biggest hits to a senior’s psyche is the loss of a driver’s license. This is because having a driver’s license and car gives us a sense of freedom, freedom to come and go as we please. Even if we don’t go anywhere, knowing we can is enough. Imagine if you lost your driver’s license? How would you deal with that? That’s how a senior feels too, only it’s worse because they know they may never get it back. This thought can lead to depression, anger, and a devastating blow to self-confidence, self-worth, and identity.
When hiring a caregiver make sure they know that when they drive the client’s car that the loss of the driver’s license isn’t as big of a deal as it would be if they felt stuck, unable to get out or go anywhere. After a while elderly folks become comfortable, happy, even animated in their conversations, enjoying being driven around or being “chauffeured” as they like to say.
An acquaintance of mine in Camarillo who collaborated with me to write this article has a tragic story. Years ago his grandmother pulled out of community pool parking lot – pulled right in front a dump truck, she died instantly. The dump truck driver was so distraught he came to the funeral to apologize. The family forgave him, as he cried saying how sorry he was that it happened, even though everyone knew it was not his fault.
A friend of his took the keys away from their father because while they were driving around together the father stopped in the middle of the freeway to point to something on a mountain, forgetting he was driving on the freeway, and almost killed them both, and another sibling. The father was devastated he lost use of the car, they probably saved his life and he lived another 10-years to see his grandchildren finish college.
We know of so many stories like these, but sometimes the DMV or court won’t take away the license until there is a horrible accident or too many moving violations. There are far too many stories of seniors accidentally hitting the gas instead of the brake and running into a building, tree ditch, pole or pedestrian.
Due to liability issues, it’s important to find caregivers who can drive clients in the client’s car for insurance purposes. This tends to work out well for all concerned. And, always remember to treat this sensitive issue very carefully and with understanding.