Oct 30, 2023

Older man with Alzheimer’s skips renewal test, gets to keep his licence

The 83-year-old (not pictured) doesn’t see an issue with his driving. [Source: Shutterstock]

The daughter of an older man with dementia has shared her anger on social media after he was granted permission to continue driving. 

The NSW woman said her father, aged 83, received a moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis in July this year and recently had his driver’s licence suspended until he passed a mandatory test. She said that earlier this month before he even sat the test, her father received a letter from Service NSW advising him he could continue to operate a car.

“This letter was written on the same day Dad didn’t show up for his test … What?” she wrote on Reddit.

In NSW, those with a licence must undertake an annual medical assessment from the age of 75 years and an on-road driving test every two years from the age of 85 to maintain an unrestricted driver’s licence.

Those 85 years or older can decide to take out a modified licence, allowing them to drive within their local area.

The woman, who goes by the user ‘uhohsarahh’ said her father – a car enthusiast – shouldn’t be driving anymore as he often has minor incidents such as scrapping cars and parking on the footpath. 

Before the letter, ‘uhohsarahh’ and her brother discussed taking away their father’s keys to prevent a serious incident, but were seething to find his licence had been reinstated despite the fact that he did not complete the mandatory test.

The letter the man received from Service NSW. [Source: Reddit]

“I recently took Dad’s car keys without him knowing. He has been looking for them everywhere. I felt bad, but he should not be on the road anymore and he doesn’t realise it,” she wrote.

A spokesperson for Transport for NSW told 7NEWS that while there were statutory obligations for the department “to ensure all licence holders are medically fit and competent to hold a driver’s licence”, members of the community must also report those who they believe are unfit to drive.

“Members of the public who have a genuine concern about a person’s medical fitness or competency to safely drive a vehicle can report an unsafe driver at their nearest Service NSW centre,” they said.

“The service centre manager will complete an Unsafe for Driving Report form and interview the informant to verify and investigate the details given, to ensure the information has been provided in good faith. The completed report is then forwarded to the Transport for NSW Licence Review Unit with recommended actions.”

What would you do in this woman’s situation? Should she take the car keys off of her father? Let us know in the comments below

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  1. Talk to his Dr, & do what they have already done, confiscate the keys. For his safety & everyone else’s.

    1. There are too many gaps in the system when it concerns people living with dementia. We must always consider dignity of risk and human rights, that is everyone’s right, but in this case, does this man understand the risks involved when he drives the car? Where do we draw the line here??? When he has a serious accident or there is a fatality involving others in the community?
      I don’t think families should have to take car keys away, the system has failed, once again.

      Look at the stats for people who are and will be living with dementia, according to Dementia Australia;
      In 2023, it is estimated there are more than 400,000 Australians living with dementia. Without a medical breakthrough, the number of people with dementia is expected to increase to more than 800,000 by 2058.
      In 2023, it is estimated there are more than 28,650 people with younger onset dementia, expected to rise to more than 42,400 people by 2058. This can include people in their 30s, 40s and 50s.3
      In 2023, it is estimated that more than 1.5 million people in Australia are involved in the care of someone living with dementia.
      2 in 3 people with dementia are thought to be living in the community.
      More than two-thirds (68.1%) of aged care residents have moderate to severe cognitive impairment.

      This MUST be addressed. Where is the duty of care? Who is responsible? It is paramount that driving on our roads requires good cognitive function.


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