When it comes to older drivers, it is much harder for men than for women to let go of the keys. I have seen baby boys in diapers run across the room and hit the couch by the window at full tilt, just to scramble up into the window in time to see the garbage truck because trucks are so exciting. What is this romance that men have with transportation?
Michelle Huneven’s article in the New York Times is her painfully funny account of her own father’s long and difficult journey from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat. It seems a miracle that he did not seriously harm himself or others in the process.
By her own account, Ms. Huneven’s father experienced dementia, and that may be a large part of the problem. People with dementia not only have an impaired ability to drive safely, they have an impaired ability to know they have an impaired ability. In the end, someone needs to act responsibly for older drivers with dementia who lose their way, literally and figuratively. We need to thank all of the Michelle Hunevens out there who are making these difficult choices. Most of all, we need to help them.
That is exactly what Liberty Mutual is trying to do, in many ways. First, they built a website to help adult children have this difficult conversation with their parents. Then, they developed an online game to help younger people experience what it is like to be an older driver. Finally, they developed a special suit, to help younger people experience what it is like to feel older. It’s a responsible approach that isn’t always easy to accept, but it is absolutely necessary and it will save lives.
It will also provide help for all of the Michelle Hunevans, so we do not have to struggle alone.