When “Experts” Butt In “For Your Own Good”

Elaine Jesmer

Elaine Jesmer: Cancer Survivor

Elaine Jesmer, author of I’m Hot! . . . and I’m Bald!. . .Chemotherapy for Winners  sent this warning for seniors:

I have a 85-year-old friend who lives alone.  She is definitely losing her memory and fretting about it, but it hasn’t impacted her life in any way that makes her vulnerable.  I spend a lot of time with her.  She forgets where she puts stuff, people’s names that she doesn’t know well, things like that.  Things I forget, too.

So…her doctor took it upon herself, without ever notifying my friend that she was doing this, to send a notice to the DMV about her “condition”.  The DMV did what the DMV does, which is send forms to my friend to be signed by her doctor and returned within a certain period of time.  My friend ignored this, having no knowledge that her doctor was responsible for all this, and knowing that she passed her driving tests with ease.

The deadline was almost up, when another friend noticed the papers.  He took her to get an extension from the DMV.  She made an appointment with the doctor.  The doctor wasn’t just going to sign anything.  She wanted an exam to do that, and the money she could charge that goes with it.  Unfortunately, even though she knew the DMV extended the deadline and only gives one extension, she made the appointment for a date after that deadline.  That’s when all of us got on top of this and used the word “lawyer”.  That’s when the doctor called the DMV and got them to give another extension to the same date as the examination.  So my friend went for her phony exam and then drove to DMV to turn in the papers.

I should state that I’ve driven with my friend many times.  She’s one of the best drivers on the road.  There is absolutely nothing impacting her judgment behind the wheel.  It is just one more incident that makes her family nervous.  They want her to sell her home and come back to Kentucky so they can “take care of her”.  She doesn’t need that care, nor does she want it.  But being a polite Southern lady, she doesn’t tell them to piss off, so they circle her like vultures.

I see my future in this sort of meddling by so-called “experts”.  As far as I’m concerned, what that doctor did without informing her patient was malpractice.  Yes, we’re getting older.  But we had better become aware that the world is going to make their judgments based on very broad definitions of the problems of aging.  They don’t take into account our daily lives and how we handle our personal worlds.  They almost took an action “for her own good” that would have taken away her autonomy.  As far as I’m concerned, next to health issues there’s nothing worse than losing your autonomy that can be done to the elderly….all of it in the name of “for her own good”.



  1. I’d like to add that the doctor’s recommendation was to have DMV revoke my friend’s license. She also recommended that she no longer live alone. Needless to say, my friend has a new doctor..and plans to take the driver’s test again (which we’re all pretty certain that she’ll pass with ease.)

    It’s really frightening to think that people who aren’t really a part of your life can make decisions that affect your ability to function successfully in the world.

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