A daughter’s struggle to keep her 83-year-old father with Alzheimer’s from driving

Oct 30, 2023
An 83-year-old man with Alzheimer's has been mistakenly authorised to drive. Source: Getty Images

A frustrated Sydney woman has taken to social media to share her outrage over a letter from Transport for NSW that has authorised her 83-year-old father, who suffers from moderate-severe stage Alzheimer’s, to drive despite never taking the necessary tests.

In NSW, elderly drivers with an unrestricted car license are required to take a driving test before their 85th birthday. Reddit user uhohsarahh posted to r/australia stating that her 83-year-old father was notified that he needed to take the driving test in the lead-up to his 85th birthday in 2025, which is also when his current license expires.

Since he last renewed his license a few years ago, her father has become increasingly dangerous on the road.

“He was starting to lose his driving skills and literally nobody wanted to ever get in a car with him. 20km on 80km roads and veering hard to the left. Stopping in the middle of lanes of traffic flow to point out a building of interest and tell a story. Not understanding how roundabouts work,” said the woman in her post.

Her father was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in July and his ability to drive has only declined further since his diagnosis.

“Every time he drives, he has bingles and scrapes, parks on the footpath etc. But he is passionate about cars, especially his one, and doesn’t believe any of the bingles were his fault – there is zero accountability,” she said.

After her father was told he had to sit the test, the woman and her brother thought that her father would no longer be able to drive as he was clearly unable to pass the test. Her father missed the first date for the test that he booked and his license was suspended.

Despite having his license suspended, her father refused to stop driving and continued to be in denial about the severity of his condition. The woman was eventually forced to hide her father’s car keys after an intervention resulted in him lashing out at his family.

The woman’s father eventually booked a new date for the test. As a condition of the test, he was required to obtain a letter from an optometrist and a GP certifying that he had sufficient eyesight and physical fitness to drive.

Due to being an Alzheimer’s sufferer, he was also required to obtain a letter from his geriatrician certifying that his Alzheimer’s was not affecting his ability to drive.

The woman’s father did not obtain any of these documents and missed the test a second time due to his condition. However, the woman’s father was later sent a letter dated the same day the test was meant to take place, stating that he could continue driving on his current license because he had reportedly completed all the necessary assessments.

The woman’s father was elated upon receiving the letter and had a new car key made, believing that he was now certified to continue driving. He later called the woman mid-drive and stopped in the middle of traffic to take the call, which caused significant danger to his fellow drivers.

The woman was later forced to contact both her father’s GP and the police to attempt to rectify Transport for NSW’s mistake.

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