Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Driving and Neurological illnesses like dementia

Never a day goes by when something is not said about people with some form of neurological illness, such as dementia and driving.

It's a well known fact that once you are diagnosed with dementia etc, you have to notify the Driving authority, yet surely this should be down to the doctors or the specialist as they are responsible for your care.

Failure to notify the authorities and insurance company that you have these illnesses, could cancel out your insurance and you could end up in court. 

To me it's wrong because if a doctor or specialist does not tell me to notify someone, to stop driving after a diagnosis and that leads to an accident, we can in law I believe sue them, for not informing them of the consequences. These people are hiding behind patient confidentiality red tape, and now its gone too far.

Its not just driving safely in your view, but can your eyes keep focused on what is happening in front of you at all times.

I say this because as many have found out, its the brain which dictates what happens and if the brain does not pick up the correct signals from the eyes, you are in trouble.

I gave up driving on my own because I felt unsafe and was unsure about the official view, but that was before my diagnosis and medication.

Since getting the medication I have started driving again but, I get assessed every year by my consultant, and then the forms are sent off to the driving authority.
I never drive on my own and never get behind the wheel of the car if I don't feel right, and will never drive with children in the car, as that is a risk I cannot afford to take

In many ways my licence is a waste of time because I rarely drive these days, and to be honest it does not bother me at all.
But I do think that we are in the minority, because there are many drivers on the roads these days, who should be stopped as they are clearly dangerous.

I often wonder how many elderly people are assessed for eyesight problems or reactions to speed, very few I would imagine simply because the doctors do not think it's their role to insist in this.

Nearly every time I see my doctor, he asks about things like whether I am still driving, about my eyesight etc, even though he knows that I will never get in the car to drive it on my own, and will never drive if I don't feel up to it.

I just do not wish to kill or hurt anyone, because I could never live with that on my mind.

These days we see and hear of many youngsters starting to drive at an early age, and then some get them selves killed because they simply cannot handle the car, sadly these people usually end up killing others too.

People wanting to ride motorbikes have to start with a small moped, and work up to the powerful bikes, so why not do the same with cars. I do not understand why youngsters can pass a driving test and then start driving a high speed car.

I personally think that the laws in this country need to be tightened up, to stop youngsters getting into fast cars, until they have experience in all types of driving.

I heard some time ago that if we were in a road accident as a driver, and the other insurance company found out that we had dementia, we would get the blame, whether it was our fault or not, yet people still drive around with mobile phones clamped to their ears, and get away with bad driving on a daily basis, something to me which is very wrong.

These days I do feel that everyone should have a mandatory driving test every ten or twenty years to ensure that they are safe to drive, and that's not just people like us with neurological illnesses.

But like it or not, I sometimes think we are victims of our own illness another form of stigma.

I know my days of driving are coming to an end, but that's because I am using my common sense and understanding that things are getting to the stage where, I cannot do it for much more.

But others carry on these days even though they cannot see, or cannot see the obvious, that they are becoming dangerous not just to themselves but also to others,

I started driving back in 1968 and have driven all over, on holiday and at work, and in all  honestly say that I enjoyed it.

I had a very strict driving instructor who did not hold back if I made a mistake, and a very hard driving test, but that was in the days before these pass and go in a months or week driving schools came out.

I personally think these places have allowed driving standards to get worse, but that's my opinion.

I also learnt to drive in snow and icy conditions, something that many cannot do these  days, and this causes accidents and traffic jams. I find it amazing that people driving four wheeled vehicles, get stuck in snow, simply because they are not taught to drive properly. "its not the car its the driver"   

But these days there are far too many idiots on the roads, and I am not talking about those with neurological illnesses, but many are people in the 18-50 year age bracket, who leave things too late, and just want to get in the car and drive like maniacs. 

It's the Jeremy Clarkson attitude, and this has made life harder. 

There are also many elderly people driving these days, when it's fairly clear that they should have stopped many years ago, but it's that little word pride which keeps coming up.

Sometimes our pride is bigger than the person. 

A car and driving is not the end of the world, if you are diagnosed with dementia etc, then give up when you are told or when you know that things are not right, and don't fight it, it really is not worth it, but remember the good times.

Remember that its always better to stop early yourself, before you are forced to stop by others, and before you injure others.

If you think that a person is becoming too dangerous to drive, seek advice on how to approach this problem, do not jump in with both feet demanding that they stop there and then

I honestly think that it takes courage to stop driving before its too late, and not everyone can do this, but with the correct support it can be handled carefully
  
I really hope that one of these days the medical profession will sort it's self out, and tell, people when they should stop driving, and also do the right thing tell the authorities themselves instead of sitting on the shelf letting others do their job for them.


Elderly and driving

After the news in the media during the last few days, I think it's time that elderly people had their eyes etc tested on a regular bas...