What Do I Do If I Live in Omaha and My Parent is Resistant to Giving Up the Car Keys?

What Do I Do If I Live in Omaha and My Parent is Resistant to Giving Up the Car Keys?

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Omaha, Nebraska is blessed to have a Center for Successful Aging at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. They have a wealth of resources available including a nice article addressing the question, what do I do if my parent is resistant to giving up the car keys? What resources do I have in the Omaha area?

The Impaired Older Driver: When And How Families Should Intervene

As our director, Joan Davelis, R.N. said when we asked her about the topic, “As soon as the adult children notice problematic driving practices, they should address them with their parent. Don’t wait until the day before taking the license away to tell the parent the plans. The more time the parent has to think about what is going to happen–the better. Remember they are losing a main source of independence. Be patient, kind, and understanding!”

Her comments tie into the article directly because it’s best to begin the conversation and not wait for the following events or excuses to play out on their own, as the article points out: (read the full article here)

“The police will probably stop Dad and take away his license.”

Surprisingly, this rarely happens. Even if a driver is ticketed for careless driving or for causing an accident, his/her license is usually not suspended unless a “breathalyzer” test shows him/her to be intoxicated. Nor do the police automatically notify the Department of Motor Vehicles about a possibly unsafe driver.

“Mom has to renew her license in 6 months. She’ll probably flunk the test and her license will be suspended.”

Wrong again. In Nebraska, one can now renew a driver’s license on-line without having to submit to vision or written examinations. Even if Mom renews her license in person, she may only be required to pass a vision test. Even when a written test is given, one may fail and then repeat the test multiple times. Some examiners will even read questions to persons who seem confused by written questions. Even with these “warning flags”, examiners will not always test a person’s actual driving skills in the car. Unless the person carries a restricted license, he/she is not required to renew their license for five years.

“Grandpa can just increase his auto liability insurance to cover any accidents.”

This takes for granted that any accident(s) will be minor and cause no bodily injury. Sadly, that is not always the case. Insurance companies increasingly refuse to write big policies for older drivers, and may be quick to cancel an older driver’s policy, particularly if he/she has repeated accidents. Injured parties may file civil suits against the older driver for an amount in excess of the insurance coverage, thereby tying up his/her assets (and the family inheritance) for many years. Law suits could be filed against family members who knowingly allow an impaired person to drive.

“Mom lives in a small town (or in the country).  She only drives to and from the store. There’s not much traffic and other drivers watch out for her.”

Statistically, most auto accidents occur within a mile of a person’s home. Suppose Mom drives through a crosswalk striking pedestrians? Suppose she makes a wrong turn or encounters a detour, then gets lost and drives out into the country? The media frequently reports stories of confused older drivers who disappear and turn up hundreds of miles from home. Occasionally, lost older drivers are the subject of intensive search efforts, only to be found dead in an isolated area months later.

If you’re dealing with this issue, we recommend the same resources found in the article:

In Omaha:

  • The Immanuel Medical Center Driver Assessment Program
    6901 N. 72 St., Omaha    Phone 402-572-3055
  • Methodist Hospital Driver Evaluation Program
    8303 Dodge St.  phone 402-354-4670

In Lincoln:

  • The Madonna Care Center Driver Training Program
    2200 S. 52 St., Lincoln   Phone 402-483-9534

In western Nebraska:

  • Regional West Medical Center, Department of Occupational Therapy 4021 Avenue “B”, Scottsbluff  Phone 308-630-1355

As Joan Davelis says, “Don’t wait until the day before taking the license away to tell the parent the plans.” This is another case where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Call us if you need someone to talk to: 402-331-2273