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Phil Hazel’s story: decision about driving

It was a tough decision, but Phil felt he couldn’t put other people at risk by continuing to drive.

Driving had always been a passion for Phil. He was experienced at rallying, 4-wheel-driving and had visited many places where the driving was challenging and interesting. He was well in tune with his own driving skills, and, after his dementia diagnosis, recognised when they were lacking. He voluntarily gave up both his boat and drivers licences at Services NSW.

It was a tough decision, but Phil felt he couldn’t put other people at risk by continuing to drive. He took complete control of the process to stop driving and relinquish his licenses, and the staff at Service NSW were helpful and supportive.

Phil has adapted to getting out and about. He walks a lot and uses taxis. He has had the odd adventure when out, getting lost or confused, but he tells people he has early onset dementia, and asks for their understanding and assistance. He has always come out from these situations well.

Phil definitely has good and bad days. Some when he reacts more and some when he is tired. One time, when Phil was actually near to home, he suddenly didn’t recognise his environment at all. He described it as if someone had dropped him anywhere in the world! He had no recognition. He walked up to some people socialising, drinking beers, and asked for help. He showed them  engraved tags on his neck-chain that detailed his condition and contact information. The people were friendly and helpful. They contacted his family and all was resolved quickly.

Phil walks a lot but once he was lost and ended up walking on the M2 motorway! He called 000. Two guys in a tow-truck came and sat with him until the police arrived. They gave Phil and his dog some water. The policeman who arrived was great and took him home. When they arrived at Phil’s house, the policeman used his radio to tell his colleagues he was ‘dropping off the old fella’. This amused Phil who was only in his 50s!