Driving and Losing Your Independence

Alice, 85, has just gotten off the phone with her daughter Janet. Alice has had her third minor automobile accident this month. Her daughter, Janet, is understandably concerned. She arranged for Alice to have her eyes checked and to speak with her primary care doctor about her driving abilities.

Alice’s eye exam reveals that she has a significant loss of peripheral vision. Her ophthalmologist explains that her loss of peripheral vision will make it difficult for her to see moving vehicles outside her direct line of sight. In all three of her recent auto accidents, Alice was in a shopping mall. In two cases, she backed out of a parking spot into a moving vehicle, and in the third instance; she collided with a car passing through a four-way stop.

Alice does not drive much, but she values the ability to go to the local mall during the week, to church on Sundays, and to meet her friends for an occasional lunch at Bob Evans.

When Alice and Janet meet with her primary care doctor, after reviewing her vision exam and testing her reflexes, he expresses concern about her continuing to drive. Alice leaves the appointment upset. Janet lives an hour away from Alice, and public transportation is not an option in their suburban community. Nevertheless, Janet promises her mother that she will investigate transportation options, so Alice can continue taking part in these social activities she enjoys.

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