How can I stop my mother from driving when she does not accept her physical and mental limitations?

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That is so difficult. I had to confront my mom several years ago and I was amazed at how stubborn she was. I was lucky that my dad helped, but I had to push him. He's 5 years younger and I'm starting to worry about him. He's 86 and wants to drive frm Wisconsin to Virginia this spring. At first I thought, great, because I would like a break from both of them, but I talked to a brother and we both feel it's too far. I guess I'm going to talk to my dad about my concerns (he's good mentally) and get some backup from my brothers. Do you have some family support?
Well, my sister and I are in complete agreement. But my dad complains and worries to us out of her earshot -- but says that if she thinks she can never drive again it will "kill her" -- so he keeps dangling hope out to her -- even though she is clearly neither physically nor mentally able to drive safely anymore. We stopped her the other day when she found the keys, got in the car, started it and began backing out of the garage without opening the garage door! I feel as though there is nothing we can do to stop her because she has already said that if her license is taken away, she'll drive anyway -- and people can just "look out for her".
She won't die from not driving. She'll be mad, upset, and a bevy of other things, but die? No.
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Not unless she gets hold of the keys again, and gets on the road -- and then not only might she die, she could take some people with her. And this does not seem to concern either of my parents. It's all about what THEY want, without any regard for possible injury to others.
This is a time for tuff Luv!!! Sometimes you need to think like a dishonest sneaky criminal to put it bluntly. Disconnect the battery at a time when she is not aware. It is for everyones benefit, she could in reality cause harm to herself or someone else. You have to do what you have to do, nevermind what she says or complains about. Blame it in mechanics. "Oh It dosen't start?!!" HUMMM ....My mom hit something and on her own never drove again. A friend of mine on the other hand has a MIL and FIL who both suffer with dementia and physical issues. I had offered suggestions due to the potential hazardous driving situation. My friend and her husband, both were in denial about the danger of the driving situation and the abilities of the Mom n Dad... until they went to check on them one night to find noone home and car gone. They were found many miles away luckily noone harmed, all tires blown out Mom driving on rims only and later found out that neighbors were concerned because Dad had been driving about on a daily basis unaware of what he was really doing and alot of kids on their street. So do whatever it takes to end the problem before they hurt themselves or anyone else. Think of it this way would you give a two year old the keys if she insisted on driving? My way of looking at tasks such as knives,dressing,cooking,home alone,etc,..... if I wouldn't let a 2 year old do it I wouldn't let Mom do it.
Thanks for all your good comments. My parents don't live with me and I have absolutely no control over their (poor) decisions when I'm not around. My dad still has his marbles and still drives (so far, so good) and so disconnecting the battery is not an option. He and the caregiver have been hiding the keys, but she has managed to find them a few times -- or my dad leaves them out. He is unwilling to put his foot down because he doesn't want to "hurt" her. He's in complete denial. I think this is going to be a day to day thing -- and honestly, I don't think she even wants to drive -- it's a control thing. She doesn't like being told that she shouldn't or can't. Based on past behavior, I'm guessing that even if she scraped up the car or got into an accident, she would fall back on her "short term memory loss" and deny that it happened. This is not going to be easy.
Somehow, get her doctor involved. If the doctor writes a prescription that she should not be driving, maybe she will obey him. If not, send the prescription to the Department of Motor Vehicles. They will call her in for a driving test, both written and driving. If she fails, the state will send her a letter informing her that she no longer has driving privileges.
I totally understand the control thing. At this point in time my Mom is very confused about how we are related (she gets mad when I call her Mom on some days) but the one thing she ALWAYS remembers is I am not in control of her in anyway shape or form (but her aid at the home is like her angel... and it's like magic she is the only one mom will shower for or listen to etc.). Sometimes there is one person that for some reason that has the magic influence or the trust factor. When Mom was in my care at my home. My Mom always asked for the key to her house but I was afraid she would loose it, so I gave her a fake on her key ring and then she stopped haunting me about it. Sometimes a fake out serves a purpose.
So if you tell your Dad to switch keys on key ring "a look alike", a fake and give it to her she may think she has the power of being in control but... he has to never let her see the real set. What really worries me is your Dad. Anyone living with and caring for someone in your Moms condition, gets very stressed and overwhelmed by the day to day drama, that is mainly why we are all at this network to vent about it all. My father in law had dementia... at a time when I or anyone else in the family knew how to deal with the illness. My mother in law who was fine mentally prior to his condition, I am extremely sad to say, took her own life due to his obnoxious and confusing behavior. So I strongly urge you to help relieve your dad of any duty or pressure that he may not even be aware that she needs or he needs. It is worse for the sane than the ill, mentally speaking. Try not to seem like your taking over, that always seems to have a negative effect...just be there, so to speak. It sounds like you have your concerns for the matter as a priority. I feel that this type of sharing of experiences gives us more awareness and education, unfortunatally there is no class to prepare anyone for this dilema. Most importantly keep in mind the one inflicted with dementia has a personality that has been with them since birth, letting a person be who they are is easier then trying to make them who you want them to be. Music is quite mood altering and helpful to assist in striking a pleasurable mood and brings back memories of earlier times and amazeingly enough it really works. Ask your dad what songs he remembers they enjoyed together play it for them and just see what happens. I promise you will witness something special.
When my Mom continued to drive after being declared blind with Macular Degeneration I took her to the DMV and had them give her a driving test with eye test, she failed and gave up her license that day. It seems the older generation obeys rules and regulations, so if a person of authority tells them they cannot drive they obey.

Is she a clear danger to herself and others? If so, notify Motor Vehicles. They just might revoke her license. If not, either love her or leave her alone.

-- ED

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