The right to drive.

Over the weekend I heard about an older person, in their late 80s, who had just been told, by their family doctor, that they would no longer be able to drive.

As you may be aware, driver licensing for those over 75 years of age is now ‘monitored’ by doctors (in that you are required to have a medical certificate stating you’re able to drive when you re-apply).

This older person had had a ‘bit of a turn’ a few weeks prior and had been to see the doctor. This ‘turn’ was diagnosed as a mini-stroke. Due to this the doctor would not issue a medical certificate for the older driver.

Now, this would all be well and good – if mini strokes were in fact the cause of this ‘turn’, but (thankfully) this older person had family members with some medical knowledge who asked some questions. You see, it appears the doctor didn’t!

After a bit of investigation, and a look at this person’s family history it seems that the ‘turn’ may have been something else. Something that wouldn’t make them a risk on the roads. So, this week (with a family support member along to ensure a thorough investigation of the medical complaint) the older driver is going back to address the diagnosis.

Now, why is this important to me? I am the first one to confess I’ve had a rant and a rave about ‘older drivers’ (to be fair, these are equally balanced with comments directed towards learner drivers, boy racers, ‘Sunday’ drivers, male drivers, female drivers… you get the gist!), but, it’s important to me because I know what a loss of licence will mean for this older person.

They’re well connected socially – and sure, there would be people from church and the various groups they attend who would come and collect them – but what would it do to your ‘spirit’. Who wants to feel a burden on others? And what about the times you just want to whip down to the supermarket for a bag of sugar, of a half dozen of eggs? Do you just go without?

And then I wonder if I am angry/worried about another myriad of things to do with this event:
*Am I sad this person is getting older?
*Do doctors even know to ask questions? Or was this just a bad doctor? Or a good doctor having a bad day?
*How many other older people are (wrongly) being refused the right to drive?

What do you think? Is it OK that a single doctor can remove an individual’s right to drive? Is there a better system? Am I crazy for wishing this older person a few more years’ happy motoring?

About Esther Perriam

Esther Perriam
Esther Perriam is a Director of Eldernet. She’s worked in the business for over 15 years and has been lucky to visit many of the older person’s services around the country. She’s never short of an opinion on…pretty much anything. Esther really loves reading and you’ll see plenty of book reviews authored by her. As a mother of two children there’s not much free time but if there is she also enjoys cooking (for grown-ups, not the kids!) and anything beach related in her spare time. Esther has presented at conferences around New Zealand and is happy to be contacted in regards to speaking or presenting at your event.