Taking the keys away from Mom and Dad
Aging and elderly folks who live in rural areas are dependent on cars for basic things in life like going to the grocery and pharmacy. They may feel stuck at home without the wheels. Older people who live in urban areas may have better access to public transportation. At any rate, at some point, their capacity to drive begins to falter.
In my own family experience, an elderly aunt lived alone like a hermit. It was her choice, she and the cats. People would come by to check in and she tolerated short visits, but clearly she preferred her private quiet life. She had a large car and would venture out for drives. They found her driving on the wrong way on the freeway and fortunately she didn’t hurt herself or someone else. After that with a legal tussle, she was committed to a care facility.
Dad insisted that he was fine driving in his neighborhood with occasional cross country drives along a path he knew well. Having driven with him many times, we knew about his lead foot. He had a couple of incidents like running into the back of his garage and screeching the car to a halt with such force that he blew out a tire. We visited and learned that he was losing his eyesight. He insisted that he could see around the blind spot.
Oh, no. With some pressure and reasoning, Dad gave up driving and moved to assisted living where he is doing well without the extra worries.
The story below breaks your heart. The “kids” wanted mom and dad to have their freedom, but they did not recognize that the time had come to take away the keys.
“Elderly couple found frozen to death after getting lost during drive
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 13, 2011; 12:00 AM
Jo Rinehart arrived at her parents' home and knew the empty driveway and locked house were bad signs. When she went inside, she saw that her mother's cellphone had been forgotten on a kitchen counter. It was filled with worried, frantic and plaintive messages from Rinehart and her siblings, all left in the previous 12 hours.
Did you make it home?"
"Where are you?"
"We're coming to your house."
Rinehart's parents, William Fresch, 85, and his wife, Betty, 79, had not been seen or heard from since about 5:15 p.m. Friday, when they left Rinehart's home in Mechanicsburg, Pa., for what was usually a 40-minute drive back to their house in Shippensburg, Pa., 25 miles north of the Maryland border.
The grown children had brokered a deal that might sound all too familiar to adult children trying to protect - and yet, respect - aging parents. The Fresches could keep their car, but drive only to Rinehart's home or around Shippensburg, and only if they called to say they had made it back home safely.
It was a trade-off, but one that seemed to have worked over the past couple of years, Rinehart said.
After she didn't find her parents at their house, Rinehart, 54, and her husband called police, who put out a regional alert for the couple. Rinehart and her husband talked to reporters, posted her parents' pictures on Facebook and searched roadways themselves, even going up in a private helicopter Tuesday to scour the area.
By 11 a.m. Tuesday, their wait was over,
Her parents' bodies had been found. Authorities think William and Betty froze to death in a steep farm field off rural Gene Hemp Road in Frederick County, Md.
A passerby who had spotted the couple's red Honda Accord, stuck in a field with a deep pitch and a ravine, tracked footprints and found the bodies a few hundred yards away from the road, said Cpl. Jennifer Bailey, a spokeswoman for the Frederick County Sheriff's Department.”