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Did You Notice? 10.13.2016

As you might already know, I am a life-long Green Bay Packers fan. Come to my office in Battle Ground, and you’ll be hard-pressed to miss my Packer “Wall-of-Fame.” What you might not know is that the first time San Francisco 49er quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, decided not to stand during the national anthem was prior to the preseason game between the Packers and 49ers on August 26th of this year.

Following the Packers v. 49ers game in August, Kaepernick’s protest against, in his words, “a country that oppresses black people and people of color” became a contentious point of debate both in and out of the sports world. As with most things in our culture, almost everyone had an opinion about the merits of sitting or kneeling during the national anthem. From nationally known politicians like Ted Cruz to internationally known supermodels (Kate Upton, if you’re wondering), we learned that almost everyone agrees that Kaepernick has the right to kneel during the national anthem even if we feel that doing so is a bit tacky. So really, we learned nothing . . . because we all already knew that everyone has the freedom to sit during the national anthem, to burn the U.S. flag or to spread their personal feelings across the internet. We also already knew that, generally speaking, conservative white Americans would be more likely to be disgusted with anthem protesters, while non-white liberal Americans would more likely support the peaceful protests.

Then, earlier this week, I was surprised to hear Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (a justice unlikely ever to be identified as conservative, her close friendship with former Justice, Antonin Scalia, notwithstanding) chime in on the Kaepernick protests. In an interview with Katie Couric, Justice Ginsberg called Kaepernick’s actions “stupid” and “arrogant.” She also said the protests by NFL players were “dumb.”

I’m less intrigued by yet another person’s opinions on this matter and more intrigued by the coverage Justice Ginsburg’s comments have (or have not) received by all of us on the internet. I don’t see any responses related to Justice Ginsburg’s comments on the social media sites I partake in, and I had to seek out an article with a link to the interview rather than having the interview pop up on just about every website I visit.

I’m certain that if someone else, perhaps the late Justice Scalia if he was still living or any number of other well-known conservative white guys, used the words “stupid,” “arrogant” or “dumb” related to Kaepernick anthem protests, there would be more outrage or at least more interest.

Why the muted response to Justice Ginsburg? Is it because we give her the benefit of the doubt due to her liberal reputation? Is it because she’s a Supreme Court justice, and we as a culture don’t even know what that is? Is it because August 26th is so long in the past that we, with our 7-second attention spans, have already moved on to more important issues like exploding cell phones and celebrity marriage-breakups?

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Some other articles that might interest you:

Hurricane Matthew in national news 

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/hurricane-matthew/hurricane-matthew-death-toll-rises-n-c-gov-warns-stay-n664361 

Hurricane Matthew in international news 

http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/11/world/haiti-hurricane-matthew/

More on exploding phones 

Samsung still can’t figure out why Galaxy Note 7 phones are exploding

A shark attack on the Oregon coast?!

http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2016/10/shark_bites_man_off_oregon_coa.html

What We Talk About vs. What is True 10.07.2016

Earlier this week, the schools here in town were locked down for 15 minutes allegedly

due a perceived threat of danger. I can remember the climb-under-your-desk drills we did when I was a kid in school. These drills were usually associated with a potential danger related to what we sometimes refer to as “acts of God” – severe weather, earthquake, etc.

These days, the drills and lock-downs at schools are less likely to be related to acts of God and more likely to be associated with acts of men. Probably the most common fear/danger we think of these days has to do with guns/shootings at schools. It’s not uncommon for schools to be proactive when it comes to any actual or reasonable threat of violence on school grounds.

However, the lock-down at local schools this week, rumor has it, had neither to do with severe weather nor guns. Instead, the schools, we have been told, took extraordinary measures this week to protect our children from . . . clowns.

Yes. Clowns.

If you pay any attention to the world wide web, you won’t be surprised that, based upon what we read on the internet, America has a new (maybe old if you’re a fan of horror books and movies) menace to deal with – a menace that presents itself in polka dot onesies, red yarn hair, extra large shoes and creepy makeup. This menace, at least I was told by several kids and parents in town, made its way to little ‘ole Battle Ground, resulting in a report of a clown near the high school . . . which then resulted in a lock-down of several schools in town.

The internet tells us that creepy clowns are on the loose just waiting to get us, social media (us!!!) fans the fear so that a new reality is created.

But are creepy clowns really on the loose just waiting to get us? Is there an actual clown threat that should reasonably result in school lock-downs? Or have we created a false reality that is now, in fact, shaping how we live?

I have my opinion about the legitimacy of what I’ll call the “Creepy Clown Threat,” and it seems as though this week’s school lock-down actually had nothing to do with clowns even though school kids and parents are buzzing about clowns in town. (The lock-down was the result of a student argument that led, briefly, to a seemingly missing student as per the BG school district).

What intrigues me most about this issue, however, is the ease with which the things that excite us – whether those things are based in truth or fantasy – so easily become a reality for us. A story is told (accurate or not), assumptions are made (reasonable or not), drama is added (the more sensational, the better), and soon I’m hearing stories about a female jogger in the eastern U.S. who was attacked by a clown who jumped out at her from a bush with intentions, it seems, to do her great harm. There may never actually have been a clown-hiding-in-the-bush-just-waiting-to-assault-a-female-jogger, but the danger seems legit. By all means, let’s lock-down the school!

Whether the Creepy Clown Threat is real or not, I do have a few pieces of advice:

1. If you see a clown, don’t beat it or shoot it. It’s not illegal to be a clown or to be a clown in town.

2. If you see a clown in town, the clown is not likely to do you any harm. I’m sure, as occurred with Pokemon Go a few months ago, there will be a few people (or a few clowns) that take this fad too far and someone will get hurt (or worse, killed). However, you were probably more likely to get injured by planking back when that was “the thing” than you are to be injured by a clown today.

3. Exercise your ability to think critically. I know it’s fun to be dramatic about creepy clowns, but our societal desire to latch on to ideas without critically thinking about those ideas is a much more legitimate threat to our culture than creepy clowns will ever be. Most of the internet wants to stimulate the part of your brain that craves entertainment. So be it. Just don’t neglect the part of your brain essential to proper reasoning.

Stay safe out there!

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Some other articles that might interest you:

Clown Calls Test Patience of Clark County Law Enforcement

Clown calls test patience of Clark County law enforcement

Federal Appeals Court Blocks Indiana from Refusing Syrian Refugees 

http://www.jurist.org/paperchase/2016/10/federal-appeals-court-blocks-indiana-from-refusing-syrian-refugees.php

“There’s no good excuse to be carrying a gun into a deposition.”

Guy Allegedly Pulls Gun During Deposition (FWIW, You’re Not Supposed To Do That)

“The fight to get professional football to Nevada”

What Are We Talking About? 09.30.2016

In the 1980s “Operation Rescue” made newspaper headlines on a regular basis as pro-life activists organized sit-ins and rallies near abortion providers throughout the United States. At that time, legalized abortion was a hot-button topic in our country, but it was often difficult or impossible to engage in reasonable debate on the subject of abortion because there were multiple ways to frame the arguments surrounding abortion. One side called themselves “pro-life” while referring to the other side “pro-abortion.” The other side called themselves “pro-choice” while referring to the other side as “anti-abortion.” Those on each side of the abortion issue generally only communicated in their own language, each claiming the high-ground of either “life” or “choice” – both American values worth fighting (and historically, dying) for. Without a willingness to listen to the language of the other side or at least to agree with each other on what language was going to be spoken, most discussions related to abortion were pointless.

Currently, our national headlines (of which their are exponentially more than during the 1980s thanks to the internet) focus on black-lives-ended-by-police. It’s not a surprise to any of us when each new week brings another controversial shooting, and the immediate reaction by all of us (and by “us” I actually mean the internet, which seems to be the tool we are using to define ourselves as a culture) is to start firing off opinions about the particular incident in question or about those who have already voiced their opinions about the particular incident in question. Pictures are posted, pieces of video are released, accusations are hurled and headlines (clickbait?) are made. Just as with the abortion issue, black-death-by-police is a supremely important issue for our nation. It should be unacceptable for our police force to be involved in unwarranted killings of our nation’s citizens. It should also be unacceptable for our nation’s citizens to irresponsibly deride the police force which provides us with the stability and order that allows us to live our lives from day to day.

But in trying to make sense of what’s going on in America right now with the hope that I can perhaps be a productive peacemaker within my circle of influence, I have little idea what anyone is talking about. Once again, one part of us (again . . . by “us” I mean the internet) is speaking one language: “police are bad.” Another part is speaking a different language: “police are doing the best they can in seemingly impossible situations.”

I see people talking but not listening. I see seven-second sound bites offered as “truth” without critical reflection. I see opinion after opinion after opinion – mostly based on our emotional reactions. What I don’t see is a concerted national effort to seek THE Truth.

So where do we go from here? There has to be an agreeable starting point for a discussion on race relations specific to police-related deaths, doesn’t there? What is that starting point?

Maybe I’m a dinosaur because I still believe in notions of Truth even though the culture I live in has seemingly abandoned Truth for a philosophy that says our truth is based on how we feel at any given moment. Maybe America has passed its point of no return when it comes to societal breakdowns because we primarily engage via the internet which seems to feed our “I’m right and anyone who isn’t like me is wrong” mentality. Maybe the cold hard truth is that a foundational value of America – the preservation of our individual rights – inevitably leads to disunity because for 250 years we’ve all been seeking after our own individual good regardless of what the consequences of that good might be to others.

Even if all these “maybes” accurately reflect our current national situation, I remain compelled to seek answers that will enable me to take personal responsibility with regard to my place as a citizen of the United States. But what do I do? What is the starting point?

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Some other articles that might interest you:

“I don’t care where his lawyer comes from. . . He just needs a lawyer.”

Vancouver Heart Transplant Patient to Sue over Legionnaires Disease

Vancouver heart-transplant patient to sue over Legionnaires’ disease

“In what experts are calling a ‘revolutionary’ medical event, the first baby with DNA from three parents has been born.”

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/first-3-parent-dna-baby-born-rare-disease/

“Vancouver is taking a bite out of the Portland food scene.”

Portland restaurateurs cross the river to meet demand in Vancouver

BREAKING NEWS: email from Matt Baker 03.24.2016

If you received an email from attorney Matt Baker, sent on 3/23/16, please delete the email without opening it. Matt did not purposefully send the email, and it contains a corrupt file.

If you have questions about the rogue email, give us a call at 425-484-0980.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this email might have caused. Thank you for your patience as we work to resolve the issue on our end.

(The Parent Trap, Part 7: Signing over the “Power” 12.19.2013

While there are at least four “must have” estate planning documents for you and your parents to consider, today we’re going to discuss Powers of Attorney. There are two basic categories of Powers of Attorney:

Financial Power of Attorney: this creates a financial power of attorney that allows your selected Attorney-in-Fact to make financial decisions for you.

Health Care Power of Attorney : this creates a health care power of attorney that allows your selected Health Care Agent to make medical decisions for you.

Both the Financial and Health Care Powers of Attorney can become effective immediately (at the time of execution) or upon a future event such as incompetency or mental incapacity.

Both types of Power of Attorney can also be limited in duration so that they terminate at a specific time or upon a specific occurrence, or they can be lasting so that once they take effect, they remain effective until death. The Powers of Attorney will terminate upon the death of the principle.

Powers of Attorney will confer upon the Attorney-in-Fact (or Agent) the right to make decisions in the same manner the principle would make them. The decision-making power can be specific (e.g. the right to sell a certain vehicle or look into certain medical records), or it can be general (e.g. the right to make any/all financial decisions or health care decisions).

There are several benefits to drafting current Powers of Attorney while your parent is still mentally capable. First, drafting the documents prior to incapacity will prevent the need to involve the court system (and associated costs!) in granting the right to act on behalf of your parent. Also, earlier drafting enables your parent to choose the specific person(s) they want to act as their Power of Attorney, and prevents potential conflict between those that might want to have the power to act, if there are competing interests. Finally, planning ahead brings peace of mind to all parties. There’s a great amount of comfort to be derived from knowing that affairs are in order.

One last note: Powers of Attorney can be drafted to allow for co-Attorneys-in-Fact/Agents. If your parent is thinking of having co-Attorneys-in-Fact/Agents, have them first determine if they want their co-Attorneys-in-Fact/Agents to have the power to act jointly (the decisions they make must be signed off by all Agents) or the power to act separately (any Agent has the power to make decisions without the signature of the other). Naming co-Attorneys-in-Fact/Agents can sometimes be cumbersome, but if your parents have multiple trustworthy and capable people in their lives to act on their behalf, utilizing co-Attorneys-in-Fact/Agents can spread the decision-making process so that one person doesn’t carry that burden alone.

If your parent doesn’t have an updated Financial or Health Care Power of Attorney in place, now is the time to act!

Coming next week: The Parent Trap, Part 8: Will vs. Trust . . . spending now or later?

The Parent Trap, Part 6: The Senior Prom 12.12.2013

Perhaps your aging parent has already dealt with the loss of their spouse. They’ve already been through the grieving period and have now been able to move on in a healthy way. And maybe now they’re at the point where they are considering giving their heart to someone else. What do you do with this situation?

This issue may catch you off guard. But it is really not uncommon for elderly folks who have lost their life partner to eventually seek companionship in another. Realistically, it’s a natural response. After all, decades of living with a mate have taught them to love companionship. Being stripped of that after all that time will cause them to miss it, to crave it, and possibly even to seek it out once more.

Even if the prospect of your parent entering the dating world seems awkward or out of place to you, take comfort in the fact that being fifty or older actually has its benefits when it comes to dating. In fact, you can be less concerned about your parent dating than your teenager. The main thing that the older generation has going for them is experience – life experience. If you are in your fifties or older, it means that you’ve lived a lot of life and you know who you are and what you want. You can put yourself out there with confidence and know exactly what you’re looking for in a partner.

The advantageousness of your parent entering the dating world will depend on them and their situation. But other than personal circumstances that may not be conducive to them seeking new companionship, there are really no obvious downsides to this pursuit. On the contrary, there are many benefits that come with this type of partnering. Studies show that elderly folks that have frequent social interaction are happier. In fact love can stimulate better brain function and more positive emotions. Being “in love” with someone just may give your parent a brighter outlook on life. On a more practical side, having a partner may make life easier in day to day living. Perhaps your parent is independent enough to live in their own home, but needs another set of hands to make practical tasks easier. Or maybe they need someone around to remind them of appointments and keep them up-to-date on their medicine. A new partner would be the perfect person to help in these areas.

Now, be aware that if your parent is looking to start dating again, social media may play a part in this. The popularity of online dating sites for seniors is on the rise. There are even certain dating websites that are being created specifically for the fifty-and-over age group. These sites allow for people to peruse different profiles easily and find exactly what they’re looking for with little effort. It’s an easy to use and convenient tool for dating, so don’t be surprised if you find out that your parent has created an online profile.

In conclusion, these are some things to be aware of in the event that your parent is looking to enter a new romantic relationship after their spouse is gone. It’s one area of their lives that can be left entirely up to them as they advance in age. As their kids, you shouldn’t try to push them into it if they’re not ready. And some may never be ready; it’s not a path for everyone. On the flip side, don’t be too quick to shut it down if you see them heading in this direction. In all likelihood, having a boyfriend or girlfriend or even a new spouse will be a positive thing in their lives. No one likes to be alone. Why should your parent have to be?

Coming next week: The Parent Trap, Part 7: Signing over “the Power”

The Parent Trap, Part 5: The Biggest Loss 11.26.2013

Spousal loss . . . perhaps the hardest topic we’ve covered in our series. Despite the difficulty that comes with the issue of losing a spouse, it is important to discuss what the process looks like. Chances are one of your parents will pass away before the other one, leaving the living partner alone. So here is a look at what your parent will be dealing with during this time, and what you can do to help them through it.

Their struggle. Losing a life partner is painful – plain and simple. Your parent will not only be dealing with emotional grief, but physical repercussions as well.

The stages of grief are denial (shock), bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance. However, they don’t always appear in this order. Everyone experiences grief differently, and certain stages can be harder for different people. Your parent might even seem to relapse into a stage that they thought they had already worked through. This is not an easy process but it is healthy for them to work through these emotions.

Furthermore, the emotional side of grief can have negative physical effects on your parent as well. They can suffer from insomnia, loss of appetite, trouble concentrating, and an inability to make decisions. Be aware of these things. If you notice these behaviors, don’t chastise them for not taking care of themselves. Realize that it is part of their grieving process and offer support.

Taking the right steps. The most important thing your parent can do in dealing with the loss of their spouse is make sure they’re taking care of themselves, even amidst the sadness. Remember that emotional grief can take a physical toll, so take extra care in helping them keep up healthy routines. Eating regular, nutritious meals and getting lots of rest are key. Also, keeping up on any medication they are taking and maintaining habitual trips to see their doctor are important.

Moreover, it might not be wise for your parent to make any big life changes in the midst of their grieving process. These changes should wait until they have successfully adjusted to life without their spouse.

Another helpful step for your parent to take is making sure they have an outlet for communicating their grief. They might not be ready to talk about it right away. In fact, your parent may be the type of person who never wants to talk about it. But eventually it will be beneficial to them to be able to let some of the emotional tension out. When you think they are ready, you might take time from your own schedule to have talks with them. Or you could recommend local grief counseling groups. Either way, communication is important.

Planning out their social activities with them can also be a beneficial step. Likely their social life will change with the loss of their spouse. But this doesn’t mean that it should cease entirely. Help them adjust their meetings and visits with people so that they are doing things they are comfortable with in the absence of their spouse. Plan ahead for certain events and holidays that you know will be hard for them to go through without their partner. Make sure they have things to do with other loved ones on those especially hard days.

Lastly, when they feel well enough, assist them in reorganizing their affairs. Meet with them and a lawyer about adjusting their will. Visit their accountant and other money professionals to take a look at their finances and life insurance policy.

All in all, it’s going to be a hard road for everyone. But these are some things to be aware of that will hopefully make the transition a little easier.

Coming next week: The Parent Trap, Part 6: The Senior Prom

The Parent Trap, Part 4: It’s Al Gore’s Fault 11.04.2013

One of the most prevalent aspects of our society today is internet use. From the internet we get email, social media, and endless information right at our fingertips. This technology is rapidly changing society, but there is one demographic likely not participating in this change – your parents and grandparents.

According to Statista, an online statistics portal, 87% of people ages 18-64 use the internet. Only 48% of people 65 and older are users of the web. Further studies show that 62% of people over the age of 74 don’t even own a computer.

For many aging Americans, the main reason they don’t engage in the internet is that learning how to use the worldwide web can be difficult for them. They have to learn how to navigate the broad spectrum of websites and pages, and they have to adopt a new way of thinking when it comes to how the internet works. Because of their age, they have much more trouble taking this all in than younger generations.

Nevertheless, if your parents can devote the time and energy necessary to learn the system, it can have extensive benefits in several areas:

Brain function. Learning how to use the internet and then participating in web searches, social media, and even online games can help sharpen brain function and keep folks thinking on your toes.

Access to services. We can purchase just about everything we need without having to leave our homes! It’s all there for us, online. Using the web for shopping, banking, making appointments, and even ordering prescriptions can save you time and energy.

Keeping in touch with family. It is likely that all of us have friends and family that we don’t see as often as we did in the past. The internet allows us to contact our loved ones even if they live several states away. Today’s technology means a grandparent can see his/her grandchildren and great-grandchildren face-to-face, even over a long distance. Not only can we visit our families, we can also keep track of old friends we lost track of over the years. The internet, social media and Skype can make it possible to stay close to family and friends that are living far away from us. We can talk through online chats, see pictures and read status updates about what’s currently going on with those we love. We can experience real interaction through video chat and Skype. These internet tools can improve our emotional well being and help us feel closer to those we love.

Exploring the world. Many people want to travel but don’t have the means or the opportunity to do so. The internet can give us the chance to see and read about places anywhere in the world without having to leave the comfort of our home. We can experience different cultures while sitting on our sofa!

Staying current. Some of our parents might believe the world is passing them by because they have a hard time keeping up. They don’t have to feel out of touch. They can get all the current news on politics, celebrities, local and national events, and more at the click of a mouse. Not only can the internet help us keep up with our families, it can help us stay up-to-date on what’s going on in the world around us (for better or worse!) and help us avoid that “left-out” feeling.

Technology is continually changing and adapting. Right now companies are developing programs specifically catered toward the 65 and older age group – programs that will help our parents learn the ways of the web easily and quickly. So encourage your parents to engage with the internet. With your help, they’ll have a chance to explore a whole new world!

Coming next week, The Parent Trap, Part 5: The Biggest Loss

The Parent Trap, Part 3: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (and Breakfast)? 10.24.2013

Many people facing the reality of having to relocate their elderly parents encounter myriad dilemmas, both physical and emotional in nature. When your parent becomes unable to live on their own, many questions arise: How do I tell them? Where should they live now? How will we be able to afford the new conditions necessary?

If these questions are of concern to you, here are a few things to consider as you figure out the best solution for your parent’s living arrangement.

Break it to them gently. As discussed in last week’s blog entry, giving up the car keys will be hard for your elderly parent. Facing relocation can be even harder. Relocating means your parent will have to leave their home and all of the things they are comfortable with. That isn’t easy for anyone. So when your parent reaches the point when it becomes necessary to find new living conditions, be very gracious about the way you discuss it with them. Show them that it’s not just a matter of their incapacity – you are concerned for their safety and comfort, and you want to do what’s best for them. Be supportive. As with driving concerns, do your best to plan ahead with your loved one. This will make the transition easier and help them feel like they are still have control of their lives.

Choose a new home that’s best for everyone. When the time comes to move your parent, you may feel a burden to take them into your own home or move yourself into theirs. Many people see putting their parent into a nursing home as the heartless option, especially if they’ve made a previous care pledge to that parent. However, it is important that you do what’s best for everyone involved. If you have a home that’s suitable for your aged relative and a family that is flexible enough to make the transition, then moving your loved one into your own home may be a reasonable option. If, on the other hand, your home is not conducive to having another tenant or if your family will experience unreasonable scheduling or relational strain, other living arrangements may be in order. Choosing an assisted living home for your parent may be a good option. If conflict is likely to arise if you move your parent into your own house, there’s a chance your parents will suffer.

Seek professional help if you need it, especially regarding finances. Often, dealing with your aging parent’s finances can be the most daunting task you face when considering relocation options. Figuring out how to manage their money and/or how they will be able to afford assisted living and medical costs can be overwhelming. When it comes to the basic things – managing their current expenses and paying bills – you may have in all under control. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you are dealing with a financial mess, you may need to take more serious action. Tax professionals, accountants and estate lawyers can help. In most cases, using professionals will save money in the long run and will likely save a lot of stress for everyone. (EXTRA NOTE: Did you know that you may be able to claim an elderly parent as a dependant on tax forms? This benefit might work for you if you are paying  at least 50% of their expenses. Talk with your accountant!)

    Keep everyone in the loop. When helping your elderly parent with changing major aspects of their lives such as living arrangements, it is usually best to have one person that is in charge of making all major decisions. This doesn’t mean neglecting other family members. Hold family meetings with siblings and/or grandchildren so that everyone has a say in Mom or Dad’s future, and keep everyone updated on decisions that are being made. This will likely save you from tension and hurt feelings in the long run.

    Coming Next Week, The Parent Trap, Part 4: It’s Al Gore’s Fault

    The Parent Trap, Part 2: What about the car keys? 10.15.2013

    In the United States, we have laws that require people to be “old enough” to drive a vehicle. But what about being too old? This is an issue that is becoming more prevalent and begs the question: can a person become too old to drive safely?

    This is a question without a simple answer. Most often, the answer is based upon the specific facts of each individual situation. However, if you have an aging parent with whom driving is becoming a concern, there are steps you can take to ease tensions and ultimately work to keep them and others safe on the road.

    The first step is to identify the issue on a broad scale. It will be beneficial for you and your parent to look at the problem as a matter of functionality, not as old age. Simply telling your loved ones that they are not safe drivers anymore because they are “too old” will likely make it more difficult for them to admit there might be a problem and accept the changes that potentially need to be made. Most elderly folks view losing their license as a loss of freedom and independence. Labeling them as “old” may increase this frustration. As a result, it is better to take an objective standpoint. After all, it is not how old people are that really affects their driving skills – it is how well their bodies and minds are functioning.

    Consequently, viewing the issue as one of functionality reminds us that everyone is different. The age at which each person begins to have problems on the road will vary depending on each person’s circumstances. So how do you know if safe driving might be an issue for your loved one? It is important to watch for the signs. They are not hard to see if you’re keeping an eye out. Warnings may include close calls when your parent is on the road. Fender benders, tickets, and near accidents all fall under this category. Another red flag might be receiving calls from your parent about getting lost en route.

    Remember, taking away a person’s driving rights can be a hard thing for them to come to grips with. It is important to consider how you approach them when you decide it’s time to deal with the problem. The best thing you can do is to talk to them about planning ahead. In other words, address the problem before it becomes critical. This allows your parent to maintain control of their own concerns. If you can help them stay aware of their driving condition and encourage them to take care of the little problems as they come up, it enables them to stay on the roads safely for a longer period of time, which in turn, protects their independence.

    Don’t forget – they are not “too old” to drive. They are simply experiencing issues with functioning safely on the road. In many cases, these problems can be solved by attending to them as they arise. Encourage your parent to get more frequent eye exams to ensure that their glasses are up to date and are keeping their vision sharp. Likewise, have them check their hearing often and keep any hearing aids they may need in good condition. If they are experiencing pain or stiffness in their joints that may impair them in turning a steering wheel or hitting a brake pedal, help them take steps to fix these problem areas. Another important area to discuss is altering their driving habits. If they are becoming uncomfortable in certain driving conditions such as darkness or busy traffic, encourage them to avoid these conditions. Changing their driving habits may be a small sacrifice to make if it means keeping the freedom to travel on their own.

    Unfortunately, your loved one may reach a point when it is no longer safe for them to operate a vehicle under any conditions. If this is the case, approach them with respect and support. Letting go of the keys may be incredibly difficult for them. Make sure you let them know that you are there to help them through the transition. Putting safety first is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of courage. When you do decide to talk to them, present them with the facts of the situation. Explain the specific problems that are impairing their driving. Using real examples of their warning signs can be helpful for them to come to grips with the facts.

    Once you’ve explained to them that you are concerned for their safety, present them with tangible options for the future. Feeling like they still have options for transportation may lessen the feeling of helplessness and ease the transition. Alternatives may include taxis, public transportation, private drivers, or local elderly transit. They might have the option of carpooling with other elderly friends that are still fit to drive. Maybe a younger relative could volunteer to assist in day to day travel. Whatever the solution may be, be sure that you have positive alternatives ready for them.

    While removing or limiting driving privileges is not always an easy issue to address, safety is the most important concern. Ensuring the safety of your elderly loved one and of others is worth the effort. If you have a parent or relative who may be facing the possibility of losing their driving ability in the near future, start planning now. Work with them to prepare for the future and make the wise choice.

    Coming October 18, The Parent Trap, Part 3: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (and Breakfast)?