My neighbor is 83 years old. His kids want him to move to assisted living, but he insists on staying at home. “Then, dad, promise you will quit driving - give us the car keys.”
His response, “You will get these keys when you pry them out of my dead, cold hands!” He meant every word, and they knew it!
Some of following 10 signs seem humorous, some don’t. None are meant to make light of a big challenge rural children of older parents face - convincing mom or dad it’s time to give up the car. For many it’s the last vestige of independence. Yet if they’re no longer safe drivers, they could put themselves and others at risk.
Mom, dad, grandma or grandpa should consider giving up driving if:
1. It takes two hours to remember where they parked their car!
At a Farm Progress Show, I spent two hours helping an elderly man search for his car- his wife was sure it was stolen. It turned out we spent most of the time looking in the wrong parking lot!
2. They can’t remember how to drive the car!
Their old car died, and against your better judgment, you found a used car of a different model. Grandma gets in the car, and says, “This car is different- I don’t know how to drive it.” She goes in the house and stays home! At least you kept her off the road that day!
3. They run a red flashing light with you in the back seat!
“Mom, don’t you know what that red flashing light means?”
Mom: “What red flashing light?” That’s the last time you ride with mom.
4. You pull up alongside a car and it doesn’t appear there’s anyone in the driver’s seat.
That’s because the elderly person is so bent over they can barely see above the steering wheel!
5. You’re certain they can’t pass the vision test to get their license renewed
My opinion is employees at the license branch aren’t going to tell 85-year olds they can’t drive!
Test person at license branch: “Mrs. Smith, tell me what you see on this line.”
Tester: “Then tell me what you see on this line.”
Tester: “OK, let’s try this line.”
You’re sitting 20 feet away. The letters are so big you see them: B, D, 4 and Z.
Mrs. Smith: “Ah, well, maybe D, B, an A
Tester: “What is the last one?”
Mrs. Smith: “Ah, it looks like Z”
Tester: “Perfect! Let’s get your picture taken.”
6. You call relatives and ask them not to let mom or dad pick them up at the airport.
You’re not even sure they can still find the airport!
7. Your mom threatens to never speak to you again if you sell her car.
You prepare your parents’ stuff for auction after once they live with you. You list mom’s car. The morning of the auction, she asked you not to sell it. You sold it - tough love. The pain of selling her belongings didn’t compare to selling her car. She talks to you again - eventually!
8. Your dad finally tells you how he gets the mail
He drives 100 feet to the mailbox, turns onto the busy road, drives 50 feet to a driveway across the road, pulls in, backs out and drives to the mailbox. Talk about getting cold chills!
9. Dad pulls in front of someone, wrecks and sets a framed photo of his wrecked car on the table!
Your siblings come in from out of town and see the photo- they’re livid. They ask dad if it was his fault. He says ‘no.’ They look at you. Is there a hole to crawl into?
10. They call for help- the car won’t move!
It won’t move because mom didn’t see the bale of hay lying in the road. It fell off a truck. She drove a tenth of a mile before the car stopped. You arrive, only to find a small square bale wedged under the front end. To make matters worse it’s yucky, smelly, rained-on hay!
Every story is based on a true situation. I couldn’t make this stuff up. The sad reality is sometimes you have to do what you have to do- even if mom or dad doesn’t like it.