Are you worried about Mom’s driving?
Yesterday, a loving adult daughter called me. Over the holiday weekend, she enjoyed lots of time with her parents and siblings. She said it was so wonderful, but she walked away with some concerns about her mom’s health.
The daughter told me that her mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease several years ago. Mom has been living with dad, but recently dad is having to do more to help out around the house. He has been doing more of the cooking and cleaning. He even started checking to make sure Mom was taking all of her medications. The daughter said, “Dad doesn’t seem to be concerned, but I am. These seem like big changes. She’s having more trouble moving, and I am worried that she is still driving.”
We talked a little bit more, and the daughter told me a few more key things. Mom has had two falls recently and the daughter is so concerned about safety that she no longer lets her own children ride with grandma.
I could hear the concern in the daughter’s voice, when she also revealed neither her dad or her sister seem that concerned AND she is worried she is over thinking things.
Listening and hearing the daughter’s concern, I asked if she might have a few more minutes so we could go thru a Driver Safety Quiz together. The daughter agreed and together we worked thru the short quiz.
Driver Safety Quiz
First, I asked teh daughter about changes she had noticed with her mom. I gave her a list of changes that could affect driving. She noted several on the list including:
- changes in memory
- drowsiness from medications
- recent falls
Next, we talked about if she was worried about her mom driving at night, in bad weather, long distances, or on the highway. She said yes to all of these.
We then talked about when she last rode in the car with her mom and if she had seen it taking her mom more time to notice changes – like the stop light turning green, or the brake lights for the cars in front of her. Yes and yes!
Last, we talked about any recent close calls, accidents, or dents on the car. The daughter said, none that she was aware of.
We then talked about my impressions as a driver rehab specialist.
First, the daughter’s concerns are valid. Many of her concerns – recent falls, drowsiness, memory changes – have been linked to driving safety concerns. Plus what she shared, pointed to a pattern of concern, not just a one time problem.
Parkinson’s disease is a disease that can progress and change. I asked if mom had recently been to see her neurologist. It has been over a year since she has seen her specialist, so we discussed how this might be a good starting point to make sure Mom is still on the best medications. I encouraged the daughter to share her concerns about her mom’s driving with the neurologist. We discussed what happens during a driving evaluation and how this might be a helpful next step after she sees the neurologist and any care plan changes are made. Finally, we talked about how the daughter and dad would be stepping in to drive, while the next steps were figured.
The daughter then said, she was so relieved to have someone help her look at her concerns. She always wants to do the best for her mom and she felt like calling the neurologist and then following up with a driving evaluation made the most sense.
There can be many reasons for a change in someone’s vision, memory, balance, and even alertness. These changes can affect things we do every day from walking to cooking to even driving. In some cases, these changes are temporary and can improve with intervention or even rehab. It is important to share your concerns with the doctor and look for solutions. Driving when you are experiencing medical changes is not recommended. A driving evaluation, with a skilled medical professional – such as an occupational therapy driver rehabilitation specialists – can be key for helping you to know when you are ready to return to driving. For questions about our driving evaluations, visit https://adaptivemobility.com/services/.