How do you stop an 83-year-old from drinking and driving?

I was on this site a lot in 2009 and found it to be very helpful. I work as a caregiver for a couple, and I have a problem. There are 4 round the clock caregivers in this case. Primarily for the wife who is 89 and in poor shape. The husband is 93 and in remarkable shape, however, he INSISTS on taking his wife to dinner-where he then drinks and then drives. We have discussed this OVER and OVER with both the family and the home health agency. The family in in complete denial that there is a problem and the agency isn't much better. We can refuse to ride with them (taking our own car) but we feel that if something bad happens we will still be held responsible. We are there to care for the WIFE, not to put up with this nonsense. When we tell him our opinion he tells us "not to argue with him" He will NOT give up the car keys and insists on driving home. It's close by but that is absolutely no excuse. It infuriates me to the point if I know they are going to dinner on my shift I call in sick. Any suggestions on how to handle this mess? I actually like the case despite this. It happens about once a month and it's terrifying-I'm at my wits end because no one will tell him to stop.

Answers 1 to 9 of 9
Please get the authorities involved before someone gets hurt (or worse). I would put your concerns in WRITING to the family and to your agency, making them aware of your findings, and if they choose to do nothing, THEY may be held responsible!

Perhaps if he was 'stopped' on the way home, it would end this madness!! It sounds like this would be the ONLY solution. Let's see what others have to say....... God Bless.
How much is this guy drinking at dinner? Is he really impaired, or not? I have no idea as to how much alcohol someone can drink and be okay, so how much IS he drinking?
He is obviously impaired when dinner is over. He usually orders a large glass of champagne--then his M.O. is to order a glass for his wife. She drinks NONE of it (always) and then he drinks that as well. You can see a difference in his behavior by the end of dinner. That's what is so upsetting. He was much worse at one time--he would start drinking before we even left. He clearly has a problem--I just wish he would keep it at HOME.
If he goes to the same place every time, can you talk to the manager and tell them the problem? After all, if he gets into an accident couldn't it come back to the restaurant that gave him enough liquor to cause him to have it? Maybe if you or someone were to follow them to whatever restaurant they go to, intercept any drinking that he might want to do by informing the managers, maybe that would put a damper on his fun. Why doesn't he just drink at home? Why go out?
I will never understand why he has to go out and drag us along. The wife doesn't enjoy it--and WE certainly don't enjoy it. That is a very good idea though--we have tried talking to family and to the agency and nothing gets done. He'll drop back for awhile and then he's right back to his shenanigans. With the holidays that was a great excuse to start up again--now their wedding anniversary and Valentine's day are coming and off we go (draggin' off the wagon). He also takes tranquilizers on top of everything else, so that makes his judgment even worse. I will definitely pass this suggestion around at work. Restaurants do not want to be held liable for such things. What it all boils down to is that it's painful for him to watch his wife go down hill. It's happening and he won't accept it--thus insisting that they go to dinner (like they did when all was well). She hates going, but won't say no to him. Literally eats two bites of food and sits there waiting to go home--she has had several strokes and no longer speaks--And, of course the drinking and medicating also helps in not dealing with this thing called reality. It's too bad--he's a nice guy otherwise, but has this very dangerous glitch to him
i will take the keys away...
Top Answer
Good for you for wanting to take action. I sympathize with you. You can anonymously contact your state Dept. of Motor Vehicles and "report" this man and they will send him a letter requiring him to be tested on his driver skills. If you know of any relatives of this couple, you could also contact them and alert them to your concerns. I know that it was very helpful to me when relatives told me that they were not comfortable seeing my father driving. This validated my own perceptions. It is ridiculous for people of advanced age who should not be on the road to still be out there, putting their own and others' lives in peril, simply because others are too timid to confront them and take away the car keys. Good luck.

Like the take-charge man that I assume he's always been no one's going to deny him taking his beloved for a ride in his chariot ... whether he's sauced or not. And since you're there to care for his wife, suggesting she ride back home in your car will be an unforgivable affront to his manhood. So are taxicabs. In a nutshell, he "ain't having that." Keep in mind, however, that he's 93 and she's 89. Their lives have pretty much come full circle, so they might not see anything wrong with a couple glasses of wine and getting behind the wheel as long as they don't mow down anybody down the road. Besides, they've probably been doing this for years; and I guess this somewhat rebellious version of "living on the edge" helps them recapture a glimmer of the romance advanced age and other people now seem to deny.

Since they only get wild once a month and their days are probably carbon copies of each other, have them snuggle in the back of the car after dinner and chauffeur them down Memory Lane to some of their favorite places. At this stage of their lives, time might not mean that much ... except to you and your clock. As long as they behave responsibly, put some wind under those frail wings of love they're barely still flying on. Let them look at you with gratitude and see you as something other than a hybrid of between a caregiver and chaperone/body guard.

In the meantime, keep a paper trail and make sure nothing comes back to haunt you by notifying your agency, the local authorities if necessary, and next of kin.

-- ED
How about getting one of his kids to come over under the excuse of taking the car for an oil change and then....not returning it for ANY reason they want to give. Then they can tell their dad they will pay for a taxi to and from dinner or better yet. Have THEM come and take the parents out to dinner.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

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