elderly person drivingIt’s the conversation no adult child wants to have, the family dynamic few want to discuss publicly. But the pain pours out on an Alzheimer’s help line, where middle-aged sons and daughters call crying, afraid to tell mom or dad it’s time to stop driving, and equally afraid not to.

“That role reversal is overwhelming,” said Ronda Randazzo, the manager of care consultation for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Massachusetts/New Hampshire chapter. The stress also flares at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s driving-assessment program, where some elderly drivers whose competency has been questioned come for road tests, desperate to prove doubting children wrong.

“We have occasionally had people threaten to hurt family members who said they were not safe to drive,” said Lissa Kapust, the director. “You get the range of emotions, from people who say they refuse to stop driving, to those who are unhappy but swallow the bitter pill.”

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