Doctor Shares Strategies for Dealing With Unsafe Senior Drivers

By David Bernstein, MD

“But Doctor, I’m a good driver.” 

I cannot tell you how many times I heard that phrase during my forty-year career as a Geriatrician. Among my physician colleagues, we all feel that we could write books based on our experiences and challenges we faced taking care of patients, young or old.

When I graduated from high school, I made three commitments to myself: to be a doctor, to address an underserved population, and to publish at least one book. In 1981, I graduated medical school, and in 1983 I opened the door to my practice focusing on the underserved geriatric population. In 2012, I published my first book.

As a Geriatrician, one of the most daunting challenges I faced was older adults with progressive physical and mental decline as they continued to drive. I have always taken a proactive approach to preventive medical care and patient safety. Addressing senior driving is one example of practicing preventive medicine. We have all heard stories of the older adult who gets lost while driving and ends up hundreds of miles from home, or drives off the road and injures innocent people. I won’t go into detail but I have heard my fair share.

There was no one to protect the patient or the public from unsafe senior drivers.  There was no one speaking to the affected driver. Doctors did not feel comfortable or compelled to and did not feel empowered. Families felt powerless. How in the world were they going to take the keys from the parents who brought them into this world? How could they strip their mother or father of their independence? Worse still, if the parent could not drive, who would transport them? Uh oh! There was bound to be major fall out. Denial is the easiest approach.

When I spoke with my patients, I heard the familiar refrain, “But doctor, I’m a good driver,” or “I have never had a traffic ticket or an accident.” I knew there were dangerous senior drivers on our roads, and I felt I was going to make a difference.

I confronted my patients and called the family members who were in denial. I provided clear recommendation that something had to be done; for them to cease driving.

My book, Senior Driving Dilemmas, provides patients and family members a starting point for discussing this serious subject and avoiding preventable injury or death. I point out that it is not just a loved one who is in danger but innocent passengers, bystanders, or other driver.

The book provides talking points and strategies to make safer choices for unsafe drivers. Specifically, for those patients with Alzheimer’s disease, it will relieve them of the mental, physical, and financial burden of driving, while reducing stress levels among family members.  In addition, the strategies provided offer opportunities to reduce the risk of injury and death of innocent people.

The Talmud teaches,” Whoever saves a single life is considered to have saved the whole world.”

The Senior Driving Dilemma can be a lifesaver.

Purchase Senior Driving Dilemmas on Amazon.

Listen to Dr. Bernstein’s podcast with his wife Melissa Bernstein, OT, FAOTA


About the Author

David Bernstein, MD is a highly-respected, award winning physician who is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Geriatrics practicing in Clearwater, Florida. His 40 years of experience have provided him with opportunities to observe and empathize with thousands of adults as they age. His insight and ability to monitor patient patterns and outcomes compelled him to share what he has learned with others.

Dr. Bernstein is a graduate of Albany Medical College. He has served as chairman of his hospital’s Pharmacy and Therapeutic committee for 20 years helping to improve patient safety and outcomes. As an associate clinical professor in the department of medicine at the University of South Florida College of Medicine, he has taught the skills he has acquired over the years to first and second year students.

His publications include:

  • I’ve Got Some Good News and Some Bad News: You’re OLD, Tales of a Geriatrician, What to Expect in Your 60s, 70s, 80s, and Beyond shares his acronym GRACE, to describe the 5 Secrets for leading a happier, healthier, longer life so we can all AGE GRACEFULLY®. “A necessary, straightforward read for all ages, since life, as Bernstein bluntly states, is a process of coming-of-old-age” (Kirkus Reviews)
  • Senior Driving Dilemmas, Lifesaving Strategies is an informational guide to families, helping them understand the complexities of senior driving.
  • The Power of 5: The Ultimate Formula for Longevity and Remaining Youthful. Dr. Bernstein uses 5 words that begin with the letter “S,” to describe the ultimate formula he knows can save your life.
  • The Power of 5: A Journal for A Journal for Health, Longevity and Wellness providing a guide to integrating The Power of 5 formula into one’s life.

On writing and self-publishing his books, he says, I have always tried to put into practice what I recommended to my patients. The action of learning a new skill such as self-publishing my work was a recommendation I followed. Learning the new skills involved challenged my brain to develop new neural pathways (neurogenesis) while reshaping existing ones (neuroplasticity). The process of self-expression, writing and self-publishing is one of many ways of challenging my brain to grow and develop new neural pathways. It is part of my approach to reduce my risk of dementia.

Dr. Bernstein is an engaging and entertaining public speaker, addressing various medical topics with his colleagues and with the community at large with a focus on individuals and families facing the complex problems of aging and remaining healthy and youthful.

He lives in Oldsmar, Florida, with his wife Melissa, and can be reached at 813-922-2876 or via email at:

Connect with Dr. Bernstein













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