Mother is still driving her car at 83 years old.

Started by

I live 1 1/2 hours from my Mother. I have an older brother that lives down south in Florida(I live in NY). Within the past 2 weeks my Mother while driving has gotten lost 2 times. Once during the day after going to church the other at night when she insisted on going to a Ladies meeting, This later time she got lost for 3 hours. I confronted her via phone and had her keys taken from her. My Mother has trashed me to anyone who would listen. I have found out that she has "tapped" other cars in the Fire Dept Parking lot while at told to me by the ladies.My Mother's car bumpers have scratches all around. She drives at 5 miles and hits the breaks hard and stays near the right side of road near the curbs. I have gone this past week with her every tactic to get her keys back...calling her friends to try to talk to me, been so stubborn and not willing to realize that driving is out of the question. I gave her 3 options, 1 work work with me half way...A lady lives with my Mother(win-win situation...lady needs a place to live while she get herself back on her feet and my Mother is not alone) 2. Take a driver's test by the county police or 3 call my older brother who I know has been verbally abusive to our Mother since our Father passed 3 yrs ago. Last night the lady living with my Mother called me that my older brother was called and she was told to tell me "The pecker better give back the keys" I want to add that my older brother has not visited our Mother in 2 years. I have been working with my Mother in putting together her taxes(she was audited for a past year and did not pay the IRS until I came for a usual visit) She has fallen down the first floor to the basement---at first refused to go to the Hospital with the lady staying with her...I gave the choice go with her now or I am driving 1 1/2 hrs then bringing her myself. My Mother thinks there is nothing wrong and why am I treating her this way by taking the car keys. I am afraid my older brother will come to NY and be verbally abusive to the lady staying with my Mother AND be physically abusive. I have heard that children are responsible for the Elder parents and can be legally fined for neglecting their parent care. I love my Mother deeply yet she has refused my help or help from others. The lady staying with my Mother and I have found rides to all the things my Mother shopping, bowling 2 times a week, doctor appointments, night meetings a and weekly Church. I even called her Priest to ask for the parish help for my Mother..which they are willing. People WANT to help her yet she does not want to loose her independence. I tried to explain that she will not yet this is about dealing with change and she is not alone. I have been trying to work with her on Power of Attorney (her's is outdated before 2007), no health care proxy, no living will or a clearly defined will. My Mother ignores me or will not listen to any sense of reason. She turns the oil heat up to 80 degrees, she will not open windows to let fresh air in for fear someone will come in and rob/mug her. When she had fallen and went to the Hospital I was able to get a copy of the reports...she has anemia and they found a severe leg infection which my mother just ignored. The doctors at ER said she had another infection around her genitals from not cleaning herself after going to the bathroom. My Mother has lied to me numerous times when I am there or even to the lady that lives with her. I also need to add that I am gay living with my life partner for 10 years...when our Father died 3 yrs ago my brother at the funeral home said i had desecrated our Fathers grave by adding my Life Partner's name to my Fathers obituary and when I was kneeling at my Father's casket, my brother said out loud that "let him stay there...he needs to workout alot of stuff with my Father." I am at my wits end. I know there are too many issues here. I have been keeping a journal for everything that has happened including events, situations, names, etc I am at the point...Do I divorce myself from my mother...if she dies I know i will be in probate court for years. I have numerous health issues to deal with and this is not helping me. I love my Mother yet she does not want my help. PLEASE...what do you think? Suggestions?


Get mother off the road, whatever it takes. Have you contacted DMV regarding having her license revoked? Have you talked to her doctor about how unsafe she is driving? Can you have the car disable, or better yet, removed from the property.

There are lots of issues to deal with, you are right about that. But first, get Mother off the road!
I went online and filed a DS-7 Medical Review. County Police can not stop an Elder from driving. so my mother will have to go to the DMV and go for a driving test, L & R turns, 3 point turn, parallel parking... I hate to do this to my Mother yet I can not accept the liability. I also mentioned in the form that I am under duress to give the keys back by my older brother...who called me a "pecker"... and he is 57yrs !!
My mother cannot see to legally drive - doctor says no - she is 93 - will not let me drive her car???? - probably a good idea to contact DMV - she insists on driving - I will not go with her.......
Balanced~My sister and I recently reported our mother to DMV. Mom had to take a form to her doctor to fill out and return to DMV. We are now waiting for DMV to contact our mother for a test. She won't pass, she has Alzheimer's. Good for you for filing the form!!
Update: I found the form in NYS DS-7 online filed it out and put I am forced to return the keys under duress from my older brother. I gave the keys back last night...NOW Mother is all back to normal and I am a loving son. In about a week Mother will receive a certified letter she must report to the DMV locally with her car, a licenced driver...all will explained and my name and the others are withheld...she will have to explained and pass an eye exam, and a drivers test. At first it hurt to do this to my Mother yet when I gave to letter to the post office worker...I felt a release. I called my EAP(Employee Assistance Program) to receive counseling for myself...this far from over, I will receive a call today to see if a Social Worker can go to my Mother and assess her. My Mother thinks now her keys back all is well and back to normal yet the lady staying with my Mom is leaving and I will not return calls to my mother. My brother, since he feels the need to give orders will have to be the Primary Caretaker for our Mother. The EAP counselor told me that this is not me taking her driving away...I am going to the experts (DMV & Social Services) to let them decide. The first thing my Mom did when the keys were placed on the table was to call my brother to let him know....then she called me and left a voice mail message that "I made her day" and how she "loves me so much" She has been so focused on the keys she is blinded by the realities in front of her...she lost a lady that wanted to help(she is moving out latest 2 weeks) and I will not work with my brother is going to set up and help her AND the DMV and social worker will decide if she is safe at home. I know it is going to get very ugly yet I wanted to help her and I am STILL willing to help her. This is about accepting change...embracing change to allow people to help her. This entire situation has taken so much time and effort. Why do parents have to act like this?
Balanced~You have done the right thing in this situation. Let DMV decide if she can drive safely and bringing in a social worker to evaluate your mother is also right. A person can be certified as incompetent due to health issues such as a disability not just on their mental status. Has your mother always been difficult? I ask because if she has a history of being illogical she may have some mental issues going on. If it has only been as she has aged, it is probably because we do not want to lose our independence and have to rely on others. It is really scary to lose driving privileges because it is the beginning of the end to our independence. Yes, there is so much red tape you have to through to achieve safety for elderly people because the laws are set up to protect the elderly from abuse. You might want to make an appt. with an elder law attorney to get more information on how to help your mother from a distance. My mother has Alzheimer's but she also has a personality disorder which make her combative, distrustful and paranoid. I have to help from a distance or I would go nuts dealing with her distrust. It is hard enough as it is since she believes my sis and I are trying to steal from her. I have had an attitude change and treat everything with my mother as though it is Alz because both illness can cause paranoia. Educate yourself on elder law and your mother's illnesses so you are well equipped. Talk with an elder law attorney for more info regarding the laws for the elderly and any other concerns you may have regarding your mother's welfare. Keep us informed because what you are going through will help others going through similar situations.
Update: Received a call from EAP moving forward with a geriatric manager to find out what is happening to my mom. Counseling for me is ridiculous...yes the first 2 sessions are paid by EAP then I have to pay the first $500! The geriatric manager will cost 75-125 an as long as I am not climbing the walls...I'll save my money for the ger. manager. I called in sick today...I need to get my life in much time talk with this person and that person. I have not heard from the lady staying with my Mom....just to make sure she is ok...I feel the "not knowing" what is happening there gets to me. I will follow up with Elder Law and Eldercare Lawyers. My life feels so fragmented and that I am on "catch up" I feel anger that my parents never took the time to plan all this out. Our relatives of the same age group have all this taken care of and are safe and happy. The good thing in all this, I have been keeping a journal for the happenings and situation with my Mom and for myself. I mediate daily to clear all the chatter out of my mind.
Take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Feeling angry is justified. My parents planned everything out and it still is difficult because my mother fights everyone and anything that would make her life easier. She sees it as a threat. You will get through this!!
Check out our new article:

20 Warning Signs That an Elder is an Unsafe Driver

Here are some warning signs that indicate a senior might not be safe to drive, according to the NHTSA:
Drifts into other lanes
Straddles lanes
Makes sudden lane changes
Ignores or misses stop signs and traffic signals
Gets easily confused in traffic
Brakes or stops abruptly without cause
Accelerates suddenly without reason
Coasts to a near stop in the midst of moving traffic
Presses simultaneously on the brake and accelerator while driving
Has difficulty seeing pedestrians, objects and other vehicles

Read the other 10 here:

Balanced~3 weeks ago my mother had to take a form to her dr. to fill out for DMV. She received notice today that her license is invalid due to an unfavorable review from her dr. beginning Sept. 24, 2012. She is devastated by this but it is for best.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support