Old Age, Driving and Losing Capacity

There is currently no upper age limit on driving a car in the UK, and government figures show that there are around 5.6 million drivers who are over the age of 70. Once a driver reaches this milestone they must apply to renew their licence and continue to do so every three years thereafter. In April 2022 there were said to be 505 centenarians with valid driving licences, up from 162 in 2012. The number of drivers aged over 90 had almost doubled to 133,000, up from 71,000 a decade earlier. The oldest person still with a licence to drive was a 108-year-old man, with two other drivers aged 107 following closely behind.

Of course age itself should not determine whether someone remains fit to drive as they get older. Failing eyesight, ill-health, reduced reactions or mobility, and dementia can all play a part in reducing our ability as drivers. Very often the driver may not be aware of their reduced capacity, particularly if they only use their car for short journeys along familiar routes. It is, however, a legal obligation to declare certain health conditions to the DVLA, and they may then require the driver to be assessed for their driving ability. At this stage family members may want to intervene if they think an elderly parent or relative is no longer capable of driving, and has become a danger to both themselves and others.

In reality, difficulties with driving may only be part of wider concerns surrounding the well-being of an elderly parent. Forgetfulness, managing stairs, paying bills and keeping up with household chores can all be worrying signs for loved ones. These changes can come as a shock to their family but sadly many aging parents do not welcome help from their adult children. They may see it as interference or an invasion of privacy, and some will even refuse to accept that they are having difficulties.

In order to convince the aging parent that they need help there are a number of steps you can take. Firstly, try to collect factual information to put before them, such as minor damage to their car or a build-up of household chores and unpaid bills. Involve medical or social services professionals where appropriate. Avoid blaming the parent and show that you want to see things from their point of view. Involve them fully in any initiatives such as arranging a weekly cleaner or shopping delivery. Convince an aging parent that setting up powers of attorney will take away the worry of dealing with paperwork and bills. Emphasise that they will still be in control of their life but will also have someone in the background looking out for their interests as they get older.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document by which an individual appoints someone to act on their behalf should they be unable to make their own decisions. An LPA does not have to be used immediately and the elderly person can continue to run their own affairs for as long as possible. For a full explanation of Lasting Powers of Attorney go to: Lasting Powers of Attorney. Should I have one and how do I do it?

Bretherton Law have been helping families with changes in their circumstances for over 50 years, and we have built an enviable reputation for our professional service and honest advice. To discuss drawing up a Power of Attorney or making an application to the Court of Protection, contact Jacki Hockin.

Call 01727 869293 or use the contact form on this page.

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