Sunday, 20 October 2013

People with Dementia and Driving


I realise that I am opening a can of worms so to speak, but here goes.

This is a subject which causes a great deal of problems these days, and I can quite understand the stress it causes, to all concerned whether they are the person with the illness, or  a carer or family member.

By law we are supposed to contact the DVLA in the UK to notify them that we have the illness, and failure to do so would possibly stop us from making an insurance claim, if we were involved in a traffic accident, no matter whose fault is was.

To me personally I do feel that this should be taken out of our hands, and should be dealt with by the medical profession, as they are clearly there to advise us in medical matters, and if we are classed as unfit to drive, then they should clearly say so and notify the authorities.

Because in my opinion that leaves them open to the person with dementia or any other illness taking them to court for neglect of their duties.

I gave up driving when the illness started and while I was still working, because I had no support, from the medical profession and was not given either advice or medication. This caused some problems at work, but it was then that my wife realised something was wrong with me

A year later when we had moved back to our family home, I had to be re-diagnosed because the original hospital had lost my notes, but once this was done I was give advice about living well with the illness, and was also given medication, which in all honesty I did not expect to work.

After around 18 months I realised that I was or seemed more switched on some ways than the vast numbers of motorists driving in our area of the UK, so I took the bull by the horns and re applied to get my driving licence back.

I agreed with my wife at the time that I would never drive unless I felt up to it, and if I ever felt odd or unwell, I would stop the car when it was safe and get out.

I have driven by myself on occasions but only short distances, and I did this so that I felt comfortable if an emergency arose at home.  

However many people simply don't give up driving, either because they have driven all of their lives, and don't see anything wrong with their own driving, and why would they, or they simply don't listen to those around them, who say they should give up because their driving standards have dropped to a level where it is classed as unsafe.

I knew one person who kept driving even though, someone had to sit next to them, and tell them which corner to drive around, something which shocked me.

I started driving in 1968, and even in 2003 when things started to go wrong, I decided in my own mind even though my employer got very upset, that I was giving up driving, and it never really bothered me.  

The reason was that, I was more concerned about hitting or killing someone else that I was about me being able to drive, and this has still stuck in my mind.

Yes I have my licence back but only on a yearly basis, and if it goes, well so what, it’s not the end of the world, as I have had all of the years extra through the medication, and that means more to me than anything else, especially seeing my Grandchildren grow up.

However in this day and age, I am staggered to see so many young drivers on the roads these days, who do intensive driving courses in very short times, and don't really get a lot of experience in all conditions as we used to do.

Is that why so many of them are killed their first few years or months of driving.  

I look around at many of these and think that its time something was done, to sort the standard of driving out once and for all. I simply don’t see how someone doing an intensive driving course over a week or a month can possibly pass a driving test, as you cannot learn everything about driving a car in that time.

Apart from that people can pass a test and then step into a high powered car which to me is barbaric, because there is no way that they can feel in control of a high powered car.

Surely like a motor bike, they should go through a process and step up when they are competent to do so, or when someone else says they are ready to do so.

But are these young motorists any safer than someone with a neurological illness? I don’t think so, yet many people with these illness may feel understandably victimised, when they see some young hooligan tearing around the roads with little or no concern for others.

I do know many people who have some form of dementia who drive quite a lot, and these people have had the illness longer than I have, and some of these youngsters really get at them, because they are driving carefully rather than racing.

I do know many people who have some form of dementia who drive quite a lot, and these people have had the illness longer than I have, and some of these youngsters really get at them, because they are driving carefully rather than racing.

I do know that some areas of the UK have driving courses where people with the illness can go for and assessment, to see if they are competent to drive, and that to me is a brilliant idea.



As long as the person listens to what is said by the instructor, and agrees to give up if they are classed as unsafe. Perhaps everyone should have a driving assessment these days, dementia or not.




It’s now time to reapply for my licence again, so it’s a case of wait and see whether I am allowed to drive again after Christmas, or whether it’s back to the poor man’s taxi “The Local Bus” But if it comes to that well so be it.

 

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