Ethics-Legal and Moral

  1. My Dad's wife (85y/o) does the driving. I am of the opinion she has some form of dementia. I have worked in a few homes that specialize in dementia and Alzheimers and have noticed she has quite a few of the traits. I have spoken with my Dad's Dr and he stated he has noticed she has traits also. In the last year and one half she has been involved in two minor fender benders. My sister rode with her a while back and almost wet herself. I talked with her oldest son about my concerns and he asked my Dad if she was that bad of a driver. My Dad, who knows better, said no, so the son took her to get her license renewed. Her side of the family doesn't believe (or want too) she has any dementia, but my Dad has finally admitted he believes she does (it has progressed). I have told him she should see her Dr as their are medications that might help, but he refuses. I think he is concerned that if she is diagnosed the Dr will forbid her to drive and my Dad is not physically able to although he has a license. Morally, I feel I should notify the authorities, I wouldn't want a death to result because of my silence. Legally, what is expected of me once I become an LPN? My mind is really clouded because this pertains to family. Thanks for any responses.
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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   itsme
    I dont know about legally, but I would tell some sort of authority. If she is not a safe driver she shouldnt be driving. We had to remove the battery from my grandmas car, she got lost going one mile to town. She never figured out the battery was missing- just thought the car was "broke down" and never drove after that! About a month later she had to be admitted to a LTC facilty and did pass away about two months later. Dementia can be a fast progressing disease. Letting her drive to make dad feel better is not worth the chance on her getting seriously hurt or hurting somone else.
  4. by   Katnip
    We had to take the car from my in-laws. It was painful, but they were both getting dangerous.

    Their neighbor continued to drive with dementia and hit a woman pushing a stoller. Fortunately the woman and her baby weren't seriously injured.

    Some states do require doctors to report demtia to the DMV. Why not call your local DMV/MVA and ask them what to do?

    If the woman is dangerous, then she shouldn't be driving. Did she pass her test?
  5. by   colleen10
    With the recent events in Santa Monica I can't imagine not having someone examine your step-mother to see if she is still capable of driving. Perhaps you can broach the subject with the rest of your family by using what has happened there as a spring board.

    When was the driving examination that her son took her to and what were the results? I guess she passed but did she have trouble with any aspects of the exam or was she having a moment of lucidity that allowed her to pass?

    There was just a story in my local paper that said in Pennsylvania there are one of two ways to report an elderly driver that you think should perhaps turn the keys in. Family members can either turn the person in to the DMV and have them retested or their family practioner can examine them and specify that they should loose their license all together or have a restricted license.

    Perhaps you can try one of these avenues.
  6. by   Ms.Hobbes
    I have attached an article about the Santa Monica Farmer's market tragedy where an 86 year old man " accidentally" drove through and killed 10 people and injured many others. I would strongly encourage you to take the steps in having her license removed. I know for seniors this is a hard thing to have to give up as they slowly lose more and more of their independence, but when it comes to their safety and the safety of others....






    Driver rams crowd; 8 die





    Another 50 hospitalized; 15 are critical


    Los Angeles Times

    July 17, 2003-2:37 a.m.
    SANTA MONICA-An 86-year-old man drove his car the length of the Santa Monica Farmer's Market early Wednesday afternoon, apparently hitting freeway speeds as he plowed through a crowd of peak summer shoppers.
    At least eight people were killed, one of them a 3-year-old child, as the driver sped for 2 blocks through a market renowned as one of the region's culinary treasures. In addition to the dead, nearly 50 people were hospitalized, 15 of them with critical injuries.

    Police said the driver apparently had lost control of his car.

    "His statement is, he possibly hit the gas instead of the brake," said Santa Monica Police Chief James T. Butts Jr. "He said he tried to brake, and he couldn't stop the vehicle."

    Tests conducted immediately after the calamity showed that the driver, identified as George Russell Weller of Santa Monica, was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Investigators said they did not believe he had suffered any medical problem that might have caused him to lose control of his car.

    Witnesses at the market, which attracts as many as 9,000 people every Wednesday, said Weller appeared in a trancelike state as he drove his red Buick LeSabre sedan west along Arizona Avenue.

    Bodies bounced off his hood; produce stands collapsed; boxes of fruit and vegetables tumbled in his wake. People who weren't hit could only watch in horror.

    "I couldn't believe what I was seeing. He was hitting people and they were just flying," said Parker Hall, 35, a salesman who had stopped to have a look at the market. "You would think it would have slowed him down, but it didn't. When he hit someone, you could hear it, and it was just, 'Boom! Boom! Boom!' "

    By the time the car came to a halt, Hall said, two or three people were splayed on the hood and windshield. A woman was trapped under the car, prompting bystanders to lift the front of the vehicle and pull her out. The street was strewn with the bodies of other victims, some apparently dead.

    The hood of the 11-year-old Buick was mangled and dented. An apple core and two unmatched women's shoes lay atop its roof.

    "It was gruesome," Hall said. "There was fruit everywhere, and they were covered with raspberries and other things." He said the crowd pulled the driver out of the car, and he "looked like he was in some kind of numb state. He wasn't freaking out. It's the weirdest thing I've ever seen in my life."

    Another witness, Penny Tremper, 64, of San Luis Obispo, was working at a booth that sells jojoba oil when the car sped by. "I saw his face," she said. "He was determined. You could hear the engine roaring. The word that went through my mind was kamikaze. His eyes were wide and his hands were clenched on the wheel."

    Police said the incident occurred at 1:47 p.m., just 13 minutes before the market was scheduled to close for the day. Butts said Weller had just left the post office and was heading west on Arizona when he spotted the farmer's market blocking his path. It was at that point that he apparently hit the gas instead of the brakes, Butts said.

    Andy Fisher, 40, of Venice, said he saw the car accelerate. The Wednesday market has a reputation as one of the best of its kind, and attracts a loyal crowd that includes chefs from many of the best restaurants in the Los Angeles area.

    Fisher, who runs a nonprofit organization, Community Food Security Coalition, that promotes farmer's markets on a national level, estimated that the car was going 60 mph, a figure cited by other witnesses.

    California Highway Patrol Commissioner Spike Helmick estimated that the car hit speeds as high as 80 mph.






    Thursday, July 17, 2003
  7. by   Good_Queen_Bess
    It's very sad for your parents to have to give up their car. I realise it's a very difficult decision to make as your mum and dad could loose their independence; but their lives, as well as other people's could be at risk.
  8. by   Todd SPN
    Well, that's the problem. No written or driving test is required to renew the license in this state. They just check your eyesight, take your money, and viola-renewed license.
  9. by   Nurse Ratched
    In recent years additional test requirements targeting older drivers have been deemed "discriminatory" in some places. Nonetheless, there are ways to bring hazardous drivers to the attention of the proper authorities.

    PLEASE call the BMV to see how one goes about reporting a potentially impaired older driver in your state. Don't be kicking yourself later if she harms herself or someone else when it could have been prevented. Keep us posted.
  10. by   Nightcrawler
    I live in California and was touched personally by the events in Santa Monica. Among those killed in the accident were a grandmother and her 6 month old grandson. The babies father is a friend of our family. His wife stood not 5 feet away while her mother and son were run down by a man who should not have been on the road.

    This same driver had been involved in a similar accident 10 years previously at a family birthday party, where he confused the brake for the gas pedal. Luckily in that case there were no injuries. Had his family reported his deteriorating driving skills then, 10 people could be alive today. Legally you may not be required to report your family member, but you do have a moral responsibility towards those who could be injured. You cannot fail to report her to the authorities because to do so is to risk her life and the lives of every person she passes while driving. I know that this is a difficult thing to do to a family member, I had to see that my grandmother lost her license 6 years ago, but it is the only thing to do to ensure the safety of everyone.
  11. by   Good_Queen_Bess
    It's not as bad as in Britain. You don't even have to have a official eye test to get your licence! They just ask you to read a number plate from a certain distance - that's it! You never even have to renew it unless you've been banned. I think ALL drivers should have to renew their licence every 5 years and send in an official form from the optician to say they can see.
  12. by   Sharon
    Since no one else has listed it yet. Here is the new Physician's Guide to Assessing and Counseling the Older Driver from the AMA at http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/9117.html
  13. by   asil
    I think you have to notify someone of your Dad's wifes condition. She does not sound like she should be driving, and who knows how many people she could kill or injure. Take care and good luck.

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