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Driving, Modified Licences and Handing in your Licence

Ageing does not have to mean losing the ability to drive. Like all aspects of maintaining independence, the more you look after your general physical and mental health, manage the health conditions you may experience and acknowledge any limitations with driving as they occur, the longer you will be able to continue to drive. There are unavoidable aspects to ageing that can make driving in your later years more susceptible to minor and major accidents.

For example:

  • Hearing and vision loss
  • Reduced depth perception, peripheral vision and night vision
  • Slower thought processing and reaction times
  • Increased driver fatigue
  • Intake of medications that affect coordination and mental alertness
  • Decreased strength, flexibility and movement
  • That is why it is important to have regular medical checks to identify any changes in your health as they occur so you can address them promptly.

There may be times when your GP or medical specialist recommends you stop driving for a period of time. This may be after surgery or while managing a new chronic health condition, such as post stroke or diabetes. After this period you may feel anxious getting back to driving. Especially if you haven’t driven for a while or have lost confidence after a driving mishap. There is no shame in having some refresher lessons before you go back on the road to increase your confidence.

Transport NSW and the Roads and Maritime Services provide all the information you need to know your rights and the processes involved in maintaining your driver’s licence. A summary of this information is provided below. It is not uncommon to experience a great sense of loss, after handing in your licence, either willingly or enforced, which is understandable. Don’t go through it alone. Get some support and learn what other forms of transport are available to you to avoid social isolation. See alternatives to driving.

A Guide to Older Persons Driver Licensing explains the older driver licensing system, licensing options and what the practical driving assessment involves.

Summary – What you need to do depends on how old you are.

  • On the road 65 Plus
  • 70-74 years old – No special requirements unless you hold a multi-combination (class C) license. Then you will need to pass a practical driving test every year to keep your MC license one you turn 70
  • 75 years old – you’ll need to have a medical review every year to keep your licence, regardless of the class of licence you hold. See Are you fit to drive? for more information
  • 80 and 84 years old, and hold a car (class C) or rider (class R) unrestricted licence, you don’t need to take a practical driving assessment, although you do need to have a medical review every year, to keep your licence

If you hold a heavy vehicle licence (classes LR, MR, HR or HC), you need to have a medical review and a practical driving assessment every year. See Are you fit to drive? for more information.

NB: You must pass all the reviews and assessments required – BEFORE your birthday.

  • When you reach 85 years old, you’ll need to have a medical review every year, to keep your licence. See “Are you fit to drive?” for more information
  • You also have the choice of taking out a modified licence, or keeping your unrestricted licence. If you wish to keep your unrestricted licence, you will need to successfully pass a practical driving assessment, EVERY SECOND YEAR.
  • Modified licence – A modified licence lets you keep driving under certain circumstances. These circumstances are added to your licence as conditions, which are printed on the back of the card. You must comply with the conditions on your licence when driving.
  • You can do a driving test with a Roads and Maritime testing officer, or you can choose to be assessed by an Older Driver Assessor. Older Driver Assessors are driving instructors accredited by Roads and Maritime, and charge a fee to conduct an assessment in your local area.

How to Find an Older Driver Assessor

To book a driving test with a Roads and Maritime assessor, please phone the Contact Centre on 13 22 13 or attend a registry or service centre in person.

NRMA Senior Driving Refreshers: provide refresher driving lessons seniors. Refreshers are a good way to get back behind the wheel after a period of not driving – they can able a safe and comfortable way to give you confidence and strengthen the skills necessary to drive. A lesson could also help you when you are indecisive as to whether it is time to give up your licence or not. A One hour refresher lesson within the Newcastle region will cost approximately $93.00, of course you can also book into other driving schools for refresher lessons.

Information, Resources and References

ALTERNATIVES TO DRIVING:

There will be an adjustment period when you are no longer able drive, but there are alternatives.

To Watch a Video, Click on ‘Life after Licence’

Support for when you stop driving free community resource: Life after Licence is a community initiative supported by NRMA Motoring + Services, Alzheimer’s Australia NSW, the Mid North Coast Aged Care Assessment Team, Community Transport and Community Care Options.

Mobility Scooters:

Mobility scooters are designed for people to use when they are less mobile and need assistance to mobilise for longer distances when walking or catching public transport is no longer an option. To drive a motor scooter, you need the same skills and will need to maintain the same ‘fitness for driving” that you would need to drive a motor vehicle. The only difference is that you will need to abide by the same road rules that apply to pedestrians.

COTA – Electric Scooters (NSW) is an information fact sheet identifying whether an Electric Motor Scooter would be a suitable option for you.

Independent Living – Report on Mobility Scooters is also a good resource to identify whether driving a motor scooter is the best option for you.

An occupational therapist can provide assessments to ensure that you, or someone you support, are safe to drive a motor scooter and prescribe the best scooter that will meet your needs. It is always best to trial the scooter before purchase. Most scooter outlets will enable trials.

Public Transport Links

Avoiding Scams

Unfortunately, according to Fair Trading, one in twenty Australian’s fall victim to scams every day.

Scams can present in many forms, such as:

  • Through the mail
  • Via email
  • Via telephone, mobile phone or text messages
  • Even door to door

To succeed, the scam has to appeal to your needs, fears or desires and look like ‘the real thing‘. Be very wary of offers that arrive unexpectedly – urging you for quick action.

Remember! If it sounds too good to be true it usually is.

Scam Avoidance Tips

  • Don’t accept work done on your house by door knockers
  • Never pay up front – wait for work completion
  • Don’t pay deposits in Cash – you will likely not see the person again
  • Don’t respond to suspicious emails, letters, house visits, phone calls or SMS – Throw out, delete, hang up or shut the door – talk through your locked wire door
  • Regardless of how official the call, letter, email looks – never give out your personal or bank details over the phone. This includes your bank and the tax department
  • Don’t let scammers play on your emotions

Where to go for help? Click here or call Fair Trading on 1300 302 502

Grandparenting

Welcome to the ‘Grandparents Supporting Grandchildren’ section of our site. Firstly, we would like to say thank you for taking on what can be a rewarding, but also a very straining role without the right support.

The following information is from local, national and commonwealth organisations to help you with the supportive and financial assistance you may need.

The “So you’ve just become the primary carer for your grandchild” is an excellent resource to designed to help, support and direct you to services when taking your first step as parent for your grandchild. It also provides a list of the local Grandparent as Parent Support Groups within Newcastle and Lower Hunter.

Being a grandparent or kinship carer is a big job, but you don’t have to do it alone. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been caring for a child for a while, there are many support services for grandparents and kinship carers that can help you.

YOUR RIGHTS AS A GRANDPARENT

If you end up in a situation where you are unfortunately restricted in seeing your grand children you do have the right to apply for time to spend with your grandchildren under the Family Law Act. Family Law Network Australia provides some useful information that may guide you through the process.

The Family Court of Australia also provide information and advice for grandparents about family relationship issues and a very good resource list. Included is information provided by The Women’s and Children Network SA which include general information for all Grandparents including:

Raising Children, the Australian parenting website, is a valuable resource providing information on issues such as:

The parent helpline 1300 1300 52 provides free telephone support to parents or carers. Staff can answer your parenting questions and provide information about where to go for further help.

Some of the more common things that people call about are:

  • The physical, emotional and social development of infants, children and young people
  • Questions about infant care, such as concerns about feeding, settling and child care
  • Concerns about the best ways to manage children’s behaviour
  • Concerns about relationships, including those between parents and children, children and their siblings and between children and their peers

The Raising Children Network – Grandparents: roles and boundaries cover many useful topics such as:

  • Working out your grandparent role
  • Setting your boundaries as a grandparent
  • Your changing role as a parent
  • Tips for supporting and communicating with your grandchild’s parents
  • Tips for when you’re asked to look after your grandchild
  • Managing your grandchild’s behaviour
  • Discipline and your grandchild

The Womens and Childrens Health Network has a wealth of information in relation to grandparenting. It covers topics from what grandparenting means today, the new grandchild, grandparenting ideas through to reminders for the parents (to be sensitive to your needs).

SHINE FOR KIDS provides a complete list of support services for Grandparents Caring for Grandchildren in NSW

LIFESTYLE CHANGES AND HOW GRANDPARENTING CAN EFFECT YOUR HEALTH

According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies grandparents bringing up grandchildren can experience changes in their own lifestyle, health and well-being because of issues such as:

  • Isolation from friends and peers because they are not free to take part in activities with their own age group
  • Friends and family may not help them out because they do not understand the situation
  • Fewer opportunities to enjoy and indulge their grandchildren because they are responsible for discipline and other parenting tasks
  • Affects on health due to the additional work and stress involved in caring for often difficult children and they may neglect their own health
  • Being tired and overworked

To avoid these issues it is important that you get the support you need so that you can also care for yourself.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR GRANDPARENTS PARENTING GRANDCHILDREN

If you’re a grandparent with primary care of your grandchild, and your grandchild is attending approved child care, you may be able to get extra help with child care fees. Grandparent Child Care Benefit covers the full cost of approved care for up to 50 hours per child per week. To be eligible you need to also be eligible for income support payments, such as the pension. The Benefit is paid directly to your child care service. Great grandparents and current and former partners of grandparents who have primary care of a grandchild may also be eligible.

If are not receiving income support payments, the full cost of the approved child care fees isn’t covered. However, you may be able to receive up to 50 hours of Child Care Benefit per child per week, and be automatically assessed as eligible for Child Care Rebate.

To find out more about applying for Child Care Payments go to Centrelink. If you prefer, you can Call Centrelink on 131 172 (Mon-Fri – 8:30am to 4:45pm). If you need help, Centrelink have Grandparent Advisers who provide support to grandparents with full time caring responsibility for their grandchildren.

INFORMATION, RESOURCES AND SUPPORT

Kinship Care and Relative Carers supports grandparents as parents and relative carers in the Newcastle and Hunter region. Relative or kinship care is a type of care where a child or young person lives with a relative or someone they already know, when circumstances mean they are unable to live with their parents.

The Samaritans Kinship Care program is a local program that provides a number of services to support kinship and relative carers in their very important role, such as:

  • Case Work Support – the Kinship Care Caseworker can help with information and advice, linking up with other services such as Centrelink, support groups, childcare, schools, counselling, disability services and programs to support children and young people.
  • Training and Workshops – these run regularly on topics such as child development and effects of trauma and supporting teenagers.
  • Peer Support Groups – friendship groups that run weekly in 11 different locations across Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Hunter region and Port Stephens. Groups are often supported by volunteers from Anglican Parishes and provide a welcoming space for sharing information, lots of laughs and supporting one another.

Contact Details: 49697886 or 0429914553

Contact Email: [email protected]

Local Grandparent Support Groups
  • Grandparents as Parents, Lambton, Ph: (02) 4393 1333
  • Grandparents as Parents, Raymond Terrace, Ph: (02) 4393 13
  • Hunter Region Grandparents as Parents, Cessnock, Ph: (02) 4393 1333

Elder Abuse

Elder Abuse is a confronting topic to talk about, but an important one. It is important that you or your loved ones are not taken advantage of. It is important to report elder abuse if you experience it or witness it. It is even more confronting if the abuser is your child, a family member or a paid carer whom you thought you could trust.

If you are feeling abused or bullied by anyone it is important that you seek help and report it. A great deal of elder abuse goes unreported either due to shame, fear of consequences, fear of upsetting family or being isolated from the community. If you are unable to report the abuse personally, you can ask someone to contact the Elder Abuse Helpline on your behalf by calling 1800 628 221.

As a community, we all need to be aware of what constitutes elder abuse. The following is a guide taken from the NSW Elder Abuse Helpline & Resource Unit’s website. This site is a confidential helpline offering information, advice and referrals for people who experience, witness or suspect the abuse of an older person living in their homes within NSW. You can also phone for help/advice on 1800 628 221

There is more than one type of elder abuse;

How can you Protect yourself?

  • Ensure your financial and legal affairs are in order (see above Planning Ahead)
  • Keep in touch with trusted family and friends, avoid becoming isolated
  • Know your rights and print off the Behaviours and Signs handout
  • If you are experiencing abuse – tell someone you trust, contact The Elder Abuse Help line
  • If you would prefer to speak to someone more local Contact the Hunter Community Legal Aid Centre on (02) 4040 9120 or 1800 650 073
  • If you feel immediate or potential risk of harm contact emergency services 000

How can you protect someone you know?

  • Things you can do as a witness
  • Things you can to as a caregiver to prevent potential elder abuse through stress/fatigue

Grief & Mental Health in Older Age

Being a senior citizen can bring with it some amazing experiences such as travel, grand parenting and exploring new hobbies. But getting older can also bring with it some life challenges that can affect your wellbeing.

Health problems, chronic pain, loss of independence, down-sizing, relocating, bereavement, distance from family and loss of previous existing social supports, can all contribute to feelings of grief, depression and anxiety.

If you or your loved is experiencing bereavement or symptoms of grief and depression such as:

  • Low mood
  • Teariness
  • Lethargy
  • Disinterest
  • Increased occurrences of illness
  • Unexplained weight loss

It is important to get some support, you should also seek medical help and advice from your GP if symptoms persist.

Grief & Crisis Support is a 24 hour grief support service, Ph: (02) 9489 6644

GriefLine is an Australia-wide grief helpline that offers free telephone, online and face-to-face grief counselling services. Call 1300 845 745 to access anonymous and confidential telephone support.

  • Life Line 13114
  • Mindhealth Connect is a useful website to learn more about symptoms of grief mental health issues, support websites and coping strategies
  • The Newcastle Bereavement & Trauma Counselling Service, 17 Bolton Street, Ph: 4929 1350 is a free service
  • Mater Bereavement Counselling and Services, Ph: (02) 4985 0330 and Calvary Bereavement Support Services (02) 4014 4687 or (02) 4921 1211 provide ongoing assistance for those whose loved ones have passed in the hospital or during palliative care
  • Uniting Grief Support Newcastle, Ph: (02) 4925 6000
    E: [email protected]
  • NALAG Grief Support Telephone Service – Sydney, Ph: 0439 922 201. Is a telephone Support Service provides grief support on a referral system by appointment through leaving a message on an answering system. A Grief Support Telephone Volunteer will ring back to make regular times for you to be contacted for grief support

GriefLine is an Australia-wide grief helpline that offers free telephone, online and face-to-face grief counselling services. Call (03) 9935 7400 or 1300 845 745 to access anonymous and confidential telephone support.

Useful link for information about grief & loss for individuals from different cultures & special group

For the Carers – An unrecognised Grief – loss and grief issues for carers – A Carer’s Guide

DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY

There can be several factors that may contribute to mental health problems including stress and issues relating to grandparenting, abuse etc. Please refer to the Depression and Anxiety section of “Health Conditions You Should Know to More About” for an in-depth discussion on the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety and how to manage them.

Funerals

Not a nice topic we know, but this is the time to think about how much input you want in regard to your funeral arrangements. If you have a Will, (and we hope you do), it is the appointed executor of your Will who will arrange your funeral. It is important that they are aware of your wishes and whether you have prepaid or made any pre-arranged requests for your funeral or not. It is also important that this information is either written in or attached to your will.

QUOTES AND COSTS:

Funeral directors must provide an itemised quote for you to compare services and prices. Make sure it includes GST so you know the full cost. According to MoneySmart, a funeral can cost anywhere in between $4,000 to $15,000. This does not include the expenses for the wake. You will find most of the information you will need to pre-plan your funeral on the ASIC MoneySmart website.

Information covered includes:

  • How much does a funeral cost
  • Super and other ways to pay for funerals
  • The pros and cons of pre-paid funerals
  • The pros and cons of funeral bonds
  • Funeral insurance
  • Links to setting up a will or life insurance

You can also download their ‘Paying for Funerals – Money Smartbooklet for a reference/guide.

WHAT TO DO AFTER THE LOSS OF A LOVED ONE

When your spouse, a family member or friend passes away it is a very difficult time for you, especially if you are responsible for arranging the funeral. There are many things to consider and several steps to take. That is why it is so important to have an understanding of the processes involved and have all the legal documents and papers you will need at hand.

Here at it takes a Village, we want to make the processes involved in funeral arrangements as painless as possible, so you can spend more time with your loved ones and less time feeling stressed and overwhelmed. We hope that the following guide will prepare and assist you.

WHAT DO I DO FIRST?

If your loved one dies at home, the first person you should contact is a doctor. A doctor must certify that death has occurred and issue a death certificate. In Australia the great majority of deaths occur in hospital or other care facilities, in which case those authorities take care of the medical formalities.

After a death certificate is issued, the body is kept at the institution’s morgue until you or the executor of the Will can make arrangements for the funeral by contacting a funeral director. In some instances, if there is no morgue at the institution, arrangements will have to be made to move the body to a funeral home as soon as possible.

In certain instances, it may not be legally possible for the doctor to issue a death certificate. In this case the doctor must contact the police who will make arrangements for a coronial investigation.

WHAT TO DO NEXT

The ‘What to do following a death” section of the Department of Human Resources website is a good starting point. Information provided includes:

You can also download the ‘Who to Notify” checklist.

If you are the spouse of the deceased. The ‘Losing Your Partner” section on ASIC’s MoneySmart is a good place to start. You will find information on:

  • The costs involved in funeral arranging
  • Getting help with funeral costs
  • Working out a Will
  • Determining where you stand financially
  • Taking the next steps
  • Preparing your future

Solace Australia is a not-for-profit volunteer organisation offering grief support for those grieving over the death of their partner.

THE EXECUTOR

If you are the spouse and the executor of a Will, it is your responsibility to distribute the assets of your partner in the way they have set out in their Will and finalise any debt and taxes they owed. Any persons entitled to part of your partner’s estate are known as ‘beneficiaries’. Assets can only be distributed after debts are paid and once the Supreme Court has granted probate, or validated the will.

You will need the following documents to administer the will;

  • Banking records
  • Credit, charge and store cards
  • Taxation records
  • Superannuation
  • Records of investments

If your partner dies ‘intestate’ (without a Will), their assets will then be distributed according to a pre-determined formula by the government.

INFORMATION FOR THE CARERS/FAMILY

The Department of Fair Trading advises that you should first find the will if there is one, as it may have directions for funeral arrangements. Then consider:

  • Have any financial arrangements been made to pay for the funeral, such as a funeral bond or insurance or pre-paid funeral?
  • Did the deceased person have a pre-paid grave?
  • Is there enough money in the deceased person’s bank account to pay for the funeral and have you contacted the bank about accessing the funds?
  • Is there any sickness, accident, life, superannuation or private health insurance policies which may make a payment towards the funeral?
  • Was the deceased a returned service person or did they belong to any club, pensioner association or trade union, which may entitle them to a funeral benefit?
  • If you or the deceased person received payments from Centrelink, have you checked with Centrelink about a possible bereavement payment or allowance?

Go to Fair Trading for more information such as:

  • Using a funeral director
  • Funeral products
  • A concise list of funeral links and contacts

EXAMPLE OF A FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS CHECKLIST:

  • Meet with the funeral director and clergy
  • Contact family, friends, and co-workers who may not be aware of the death
  • Gather information for obituary and contact newspapers
  • Decide the location of the service
  • Enquire about special religious services
  • Decide on burial or cremation
  • Decide on place and time of funeral service
  • Choose a casket
  • Choose a burial site/crypt
  • Pick out clothing for the deceased
  • Choose scripture to be read
  • Choose individual(s) to read eulogies
  • Write a eulogy
  • Pick type of flowers and music
  • Choose pallbearers
  • Order a funeral limousine
  • Choose the memorial type and inscription
  • Sign necessary papers for burial permit
  • Consider a charitable organisation(s) to receive donations
  • Arrange venue for wake, catering etc.

PREPARING TO WRITE A EULOGY:

The most important speech you may ever make is a eulogy. According to EulogyWriter.com.au

The main task for the person delivering the eulogy is to bring the person back into the minds of those in attendance.

A good starting point is to jot down things you fondly remember about the deceased. This will ‘unblank’ the page and give you a starting point to the structure of the eulogy. As with all writing, a eulogy needs a beginning, middle and ending. Making the beginning personal allows everyone to understand why you have been given the honour to speak. The middle (and bulk) of the speech should be about the person in general – their achievements, hobbies, passions and the legacy they left. The end should be succinct, memorable and moving.

Go to the Eulogywriter website for more information. It is free and contains all you will need to prepare and write the perfect eulogy for your loved one.

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