My Father, Khader: No More Driving
My father learned to drive at the age of 10. Back in India, driving with a license, at that time especially, wasn’t really a thing. Mainly because anytime you got a ticket you could bribe the officer. You’d simply need an ID for government purposes. Nothing more really.
When he got older, he took the test and became licensed obviously. He got married and when he moved to America, he not only got his license but taught my mother how to drive too. Because my parents owned a small business, going to the bank on the daily was essential and of course, picking up kids from school.
On top of that, my parents drove to and from Los Angeles from the Bay Area pretty frequently to meet with wholesalers for their small business. And because my parents were undocumented, the main transportation for any “vacation” was driving. Our parents driving us was our only form of transportation. So the idea of telling my father he can’t drive anymore is kind of crazy.
How will we have this conversation with him?
What I realized, because of my father’s Parkinson’s and more so because of his cognitive impairment, I can’t look at the situation so emotionally. It’s hard not to because my father was so independent for so long. But when it comes to driving, there is the concern of other people’s safety at risk so no, emotions cannot be a part of this process.
Thankfully, the minivan he insists on keeping doesn’t drive very far so we are okay for right now. But eventually, my family and I are going to have to take more drastic measures. But he won’t hear it from us.
From what we have researched, at least in the State of Texas where my parents reside, there are a few different ways to take away your elderly parent’s license. A lot of research pushes the whole “have a friendly non-attacking conversation” which is cute but that won’t work for us.
What are our options?
One option said to have a spouse have the difficult conversation with the elderly parent but that would result in an argument no one needs to have and we’d most likely end up where we started.
Another option is to have the Primary Care Physician speak with the elderly parent which would work, but again requires my father being able to be reasoned with. He’s been a sick man for a long time so doing exactly what the doctor ordered isn’t exactly his style.
The third and most promising option would be to write an anonymous letter to the Department of Public Safety (essentially the DMV for Texas) with a strong recommendation the individual should not be driving. This option, while some would call the coward’s road, means the family is not at fault and my father would be subject to a retest for his license. The issue with this is that:
- My father may be cognitively impaired but he is not dumb so he would quickly figure out one of his daughters or his wife sent the letter in.
- Again with the emotions, but I’d simply feel bad. Taking away the man’s right to drive is a big deal. We haven’t had any reason to really believe he would harm anyone but to even risk him hurting someone seems bad.
Where does that leave us?
He is only 65 and with this Parkinson’s disease progressing the way it does, he could have a lot of years left. Years where he would be dependent on ride services or family members and not be able to go anywhere as he pleases.
We know we have to eventually take steps towards limiting his independence but until then, should we just let the man live?
Have you or a loved one ever tried speech therapy?