Wednesday, February 20, 2019
There is no categorical age that is deemed to be too old to drive, but when 97-year-old Prince Philip wrecked his Land Rover last month, many people were surprised that he was still behind the wheel. Three weeks later he voluntarily surrendered his driver's license amid the public discussion and debate of when the elderly should stop driving.
Attaining a driver's license and having the ability to get yourself around is a freedom that most Americans were craving when they were young teenagers. That feeling of no longer being tethered to your parents or guardians was exhilarating. Losing that freedom may be crushing to older parents and their adult children may be blind that to that loss. They love their parents and they are solely focused on their loved ones' safety. Most Americans over 50 years old live in the suburbs and rural areas, and not many forms of transportation are as responsive as hopping in your own car.
When to move your parent or parents out of their home is another large decision rife with uncertainty and conflict. A person's home is often depicted as their castle, and there is a sense of comfort within their own space and being the ruler of their own destiny. Whether it is due to physical frailty or cognitive function, the adult child-parent conversation about moving from home is as much about a parent’s identity as it is about accessible and safe housing.
See Joseph Coughlin, What Your Aging Parents Want You to Know Before Discussing Their Driving & Housing, Forbes, February 10, 2019.
Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.