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FAQs #15

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Q15. Help! My dad is 82 and seems kind of disoriented and confused lately. His car shows several mystery dents, but he swears he has no knowledge of how they occurred and insists his driving skills are better than ever. He has always been a strong and competent person, and a bit stubborn. Other people in my family support his right to drive, but I notice they don't ride with him. My parents live in the country and there is no reliable public transportation in their area. I'm afraid he is going to hurt or kill someone, and to be honest, I'm also afraid of liability if this is to occur. How can I intervene? Should I intervene?

A15. Monica Keefe:
>Your question poses several issues, which I will try to address individually.

      MEDICAL —
      >If your father hasn't had a complete physical exam recently, it is time. At any rate, because the confusion and disorientation seem to have been going on, and the car is dented, he should have a complete medical and psychological assessment to get a better understanding of what is going on. If this is a transient thing caused by a medication that is making him confused, he could very well drive again. But if this is a progressive dementia, the prognosis would not be as good, and he may indeed need to quit driving.

      DRIVING/COMPETENCY —
      >Some of this can be answered after his medical evaluation, but if competency becomes an issue, the Department of Motor Vehicles may need to be notified, who in turn will probably contact him and ask him to come in for a driving test. They will make the final decision. You may want to consult an attorney for more information around the legal concerns in this situation.<cite>

      FAMILY ISSUES —
      >If your family is so inclined, you may want to seek some help in a family meeting so that some of these differences of opinion might be addressed in a more productive manner. Bear in mind that families don't always agree, and these issues can get sticky. Thus, it can be quite helpful to have a mediator. You might start with a geriatric care manager who can participate as an objective third party facilitator, or, particiularly if legal questions may arise, you may want to consult a professional mediator.<cite>

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      MEDICAL —
      >If your father hasn't had a complete physical exam recently, it is time. At any rate, because the confusion and disorientation seem to have been going on, and the car is dented, he should have a complete medical and psychological assessment to get a better understanding of what is going on. If this is a transient thing caused by a medication that is making him confused, he could very well drive again. But if this is a progressive dementia, the prognosis would not be as good, and he may indeed need to quit driving. <cite>

      DRIVING/COMPETENCY —
      >Some of this can be answered after his medical evaluation, but if competency becomes an issue, the Department of Motor Vehicles may need to be notified, who in turn will probably contact him and ask him to come in for a driving test. They will make the final decision. You may want to consult an attorney for more information around the legal concerns in this situation.<cite>

      FAMILY ISSUES —
      >If your family is so inclined, you may want to seek some help in a family meeting so that some of these differences of opinion might be addressed in a more productive manner. Bear in mind that families don't always agree, and these issues can get sticky. Thus, it can be quite helpful to have a mediator. You might start with a geriatric care manager who can participate as an objective third party facilitator, or, particiularly if legal questions may arise, you may want to consult a professional mediator.<cite>

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Kirsten Hartman, CMC
Kirsten Hartman, CMC
Seniors in Transition, LLC
2627 Pasquinel Drive
Fort Collins, CO 80526
970-204-6977

Expertise:
Care Management

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