Nightly News | February 16, 2012
>>> we are back. we turn now to the conversation an entire generation of americans is dreading. how to know when to take the car keys away from an elderly parent. it's a conversation a lot of us have had. there is no joy in it. there is often great pain because everyone can identify with the independence that comes with the ability to get in the car and drive. but there are obviously big concerns about safety. the safety of everybody on the road. and wherever the sons and daughters of elderly parents gather, this topic eventually comes up. our report tonight from our chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman .
>> where you going?
>> to the post office .
>> reporter: when her elderly father walked out the door and headed for his carr, cynthia and tom used to hold their breath. a few years ago, they had an honest conversation with ralph now 94 about limiting where and when he drives.
>> i think he brought it up himself about his trepidation with driving at night.
>> reporter: it's so hard for a lot of people as they age to give up any part of their independence. what allowed you to have the confidence to make that first step?
>> safety, of course.
>> reporter: really?
>> yeah, safety. because i treasure another man's life just like i treasure my own.
>> reporter: ralph 's concerns are supported by tragic facts. every day in this country, 600 drivers over the age of 65 are involved in an accident. and nine of them are killed. what are the warning signs your loved one is in trouble?
>> the best thing is ride along . when you're riding along observe for things. is their reaction time slow? are they getting lost? is their loved one really struggling to judge distances as they merge into traffic?
>> reporter: 33 states have begun to impose more stringent requirements on drivers over age 65. pennsylvania where ralph lives is one of them.
>> this last spring they picked me at random and sent me a nice letter and said, send in your medical records and you'll be able to drive your vehicle.
>> reporter: were you insulted?
>> no. no at all. i was happy.
>> i'm happy about that, too.
>> it gave me more confidence because i'm okay.
>> reporter: after making a mutual decision with his children, ralph 's free to drive, but only during the day and around the neighborhood he's lived in since he was a boy.
>> he's a very good driver. he's a safe driver.
>> nancy is with us in the studio. there are two questions. how to do it and how to know when the time has come
>> reporter: experts say get in the car with your mom and dad and have this conversation before the crisis. it's going to be tough no matter what talk about safety, talk about potential of lawsuits, willing to keep everyone safe, not losing the house. remember there's going to be pushback. there is an emasculation aspect whether it's your mom or dad. start having those conversations in small tid bits before you're facing something the family doesn't want to face.
>> it's really an issue for an an tier generation. thank you as always.