In this Elder Law Minute, Wes Coulson wants to talk about the difficult conversation of “taking away the keys”.
Hi! I’m Wes Coulson from Dent-Coulson Elder Law, proudly serving clients throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area and beyond. I’d like to welcome you to our Elder Law and Estate Planning Minute. We do these to help educate people, give them some little tips, and especially to let them know the questions they need to ask, things that they’ve maybe not thought of. Our thought on that is that we can help you best if you realize the things that you need help and that we can help you with. So I hope you enjoy. Thanks!
One of the most difficult decisions that people often have to confront with a family member who is advancing on the Alzheimer’s spectrum, is the decision on taking away the keys. There is, by the way, some tremendous information advice on this through the website of the Automobile Association of America, AAA as everyone knows it. What’s most commonly done is actually the worst thing, which is gathering the whole family around and saying “Well, it’s time to take away the keys.” That’s very confrontational, it’s, sort of, an affront to the dignity of the person involved, and it’s just really not the best way to go about it.
Some suggestions. Start it with a discussion saying “We need to start thinking about it”, and have it be a gradual thing. Maybe talk about “Let’s impose some restrictions”, “Let’s not have you drive at night”, or, if they say, “Well I need to be able to drive to get to here and there”, “Okay, can we agree that those are going to be the only places that you are going to drive”, or, “you are not going to drive more than a certain distance”, or, “you’re not going to drive on interstates, where traffic is going by too fast for you.” It’s a good idea to have, like, a contract with a person, where they are sitting down, and I don’t mean have a lawyer draw up a contract, just a set of rules that they’ve said they’re okay with. And, you just have them, you know, write them down, and sign that.
Another thing that really helps is that there are a lot of things about being older that affect driving that don’t cause somebody to take this as an affront on their cognitive abilities. As we get older, in a lot of occasions, our vision starts to fail. Our hearing is not as good, we may not hear an ambulance siren. Our reflexes definitely slow. So, if you see a kid running out in front of you, and you are slamming on the brakes, that extra second it might take you because your reflexes have slowed, could be the difference of “Thank goodness that didn’t happen” and “Oh my gosh”.
So, if you focus on those other things, things that are natural parts of aging, in a lot of cases, that’s easier for an older person to accept, than to just say “Well, you have Alzheimer’s, and so therefore, you can’t drive”. That’s the hardest thing for anybody to accept. So, again, look at the AAA site, there is a lot of great information there. Thanks!
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Dent-Coulson Elder Law is dedicated to providing families in the St. Louis area with their Elder Law needs. Our practice areas include Asset Preservation Planning, Veterans Benefits, Medicaid Eligibility, Alzheimer’s Planning, Special Needs Planning, Estate Planning and more. We understand the financial challenges you may face as you and your loved ones grow older. At Dent-Coulson Elder Law, our clients’ well-being is our number one priority. For immediate help, call (618) 632-7000 (IL) or (314) 567-9292 (MO), or Contact Us and we will get in touch as soon as possible.