Driving, Early Dementia and Stroke

Posted by fiesty76 @fiesty76, Nov 5, 2020

A previous excellent discussion on Accepting Change As You Age and driving safely, prompted me to start this new thread in hopes that it might reach more members. My dad’s career involved driving throughout the state as a divisional director. He retired at 70 yrs and enjoyed having a daily coffee time with friends in our very small town. My mom had noticed that he was getting more forgetful about some things…misplacing items, difficulty remembering some current events but nothing alarming. She usually found him working in the yard when she came home from school but one day he wasn’t home and when it got dark and he still hadn’t showed up, she called me very concerned.

In the late 70’s, we didn’t have cell phones or state networks for missing person alerts that we have now. The three hour drive was nerve wracking but we tried to stay optimistic that he would be home when we arrived. The next three days and nights were beyond description. Local and county law enforcement were alerted and a friend arranged for a helicopter search for his vehicle to no avail. On the fourth day, we got a call that he had been found on a ranch at a cattle tank 275 miles away. He was trying to fish using a coat hanger and had suffered a major stroke.

Until that fateful day my dad had had no problem while driving to and fro locally. My mom had not noticed any changes in his driving on trips nor had he become confused about where he was. We think that he may have had a TMI, became confused and made it to the cattle tank before suffering the major stroke.

The two sites @colleenyoung posted on this thread are well worth the read and plan. My daughter lives out-of-state and we have had the “driving discussion” and she phones me almost daily. I hope others will have this discussion and also be increasingly watchful if a family member or loved one begins showing signs of lessening mental acuity or changes in driving ability.

As an older, single adult, living independently, only a dire night emergency would put me in the driver’s seat of my car now. Neither my vision nor my reflexes are what they once were. The thought of having to stop driving altogether would be one of the most significant an older person may face. However, the safety and well being of all will make that decision well worth it if it saves lives.

This is a tough topic and one no one wants to consider but for those of us who are aging it is, like making estate and final arrangement plans, well worth the consideration while we are still able.

@gingerw

@merpreb My husband says "I drive like a grandma". I remind him I have never had a ticket, nor caused an accident, and have handled vehicles all the way up to 18-wheeler. I study the roads and note how curves are cambered and angled, and know how my vehicle will handle in different road conditions. Test drives for me usually leave the salesperson pretty shaken up. But when the time comes that I feel no confidence in my abilities to drive, I will give it up.
Ginger

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@gingerw, I've been accused of driving like a little old woman for years…long before grey hair or wrinkles! While I can't boast managing an 18 wheeler, I've never been ticketed either and I accuse some of those bedevilers of thinking they are trying out for the Indy 500. Having to stop driving would be a terrible personal blow for me and would leave me pretty stranded but like you, the dangers of risk, I truly hope, make the decision easier when that time comes.

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@fiesty76

@gingerw, I've been accused of driving like a little old woman for years…long before grey hair or wrinkles! While I can't boast managing an 18 wheeler, I've never been ticketed either and I accuse some of those bedevilers of thinking they are trying out for the Indy 500. Having to stop driving would be a terrible personal blow for me and would leave me pretty stranded but like you, the dangers of risk, I truly hope, make the decision easier when that time comes.

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@fiesty76 I'm just a year older and because of my M.D @glucoms I gave my car up but I do miss it While driving one day it scared me as zI almost drove into someone When younger I drove a 52 passenger bus couldn't do it now so glad I'm retired lol

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@fiesty76

@gingerw, I've been accused of driving like a little old woman for years…long before grey hair or wrinkles! While I can't boast managing an 18 wheeler, I've never been ticketed either and I accuse some of those bedevilers of thinking they are trying out for the Indy 500. Having to stop driving would be a terrible personal blow for me and would leave me pretty stranded but like you, the dangers of risk, I truly hope, make the decision easier when that time comes.

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@fiesty76 and everyone else reading this great thread. Another very important thing we all must remember is to be careful when it comes to being on medications or being sick/flu. These can dramatically change up our reaction times or perception. I saw it happen to someone I loved, who wasn't feeling well. Instead of calling a friend or relative to take him to dr, he drove. And wrapped himself around a light standard, dieing instantly. Fortunately no-one else was hurt.
Ginger

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@lioness

@fiesty76 I'm just a year older and because of my M.D @glucoms I gave my car up but I do miss it While driving one day it scared me as zI almost drove into someone When younger I drove a 52 passenger bus couldn't do it now so glad I'm retired lol

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@lioness, Impressive that you drove a 52 passenger bus. I admire those who drive multi-passenger vehicles because not only does the driver have to be very alert to changing street/highway conditions but also be aware of any distractions caused by the passengers. Good for you and those who can or have done that. I agree that one of the perks of retirement is that we have more flexibility in choosing what we will do and the best times for doing it.

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@gingerw

@fiesty76 and everyone else reading this great thread. Another very important thing we all must remember is to be careful when it comes to being on medications or being sick/flu. These can dramatically change up our reaction times or perception. I saw it happen to someone I loved, who wasn't feeling well. Instead of calling a friend or relative to take him to dr, he drove. And wrapped himself around a light standard, dieing instantly. Fortunately no-one else was hurt.
Ginger

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@gingerw, You make a great point about how medications can possibly interfere with our reaction times. I'd not thought about slowed down responses while driving and ill but that makes so much sense. Thank you for adding that reminder.

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