At What Point Do You Tell an Elderly Driver to Hand Over the Car Keys?

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Few milestones in life can match the joy of getting a driver’s license. It is one of the hallmarks of happiness, responsibility, and independence. Conversely, few events symbolize the desolation that comes when an elderly person’s family or caretakers decide that it’s time to ask them to hand over the car keys. Yet, as NYU Langone bioethics professor Dr. Arthur Caplan says, it is a conversation many people need to have as an aging driver exhibits signs of dementia or forgetfulness. Dr. Caplan appeared on 710 WOR’s Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning program to discuss why family members and state DMVs must apply a tougher standard with an elderly driver.

“It’s a tough, tough issue,” Dr. Caplan told Berman and Riedel. “It’s maybe the most common question I get with people who have relatives who re elderly and they’re getting nervous that they don’t think they are doing good job driving. [But] I think we’ve got to up the ante here. I think there are associations between losing your skills, deafness, bad vision, dementia, and getting other people in trouble with your car.”

The simplest resolution, Dr. Caplan reasons, boils down to one word: testing. “I think it’s way past time for a written test. You ought to be able to pass a written test. You ought to be able to pass a hearing and a vision test. These can be very simple; they’re not all-day long tests. But yeah, I think it’s time when you hit 65, I’m just going to pick an arbitrary number, start testing.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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