Senior Driving Top Tips: When Is It Time to Take Away the Keys?

7 Comments

The AgingCare.com forum is filled with people coming together to share valuable information. We’ve compiled experienced caregivers’ best tips for recognizing when a senior is no longer able to drive safely.

When Is It Time to Take Away the Car Keys?

“When you ask this question, it is time. There are places that can conduct an assessment and make an ‘educated guess’ as to a person’s ability. But once the diagnosis has been made, I think it is the responsibility of the family to take the keys away. You open yourself to liability should something happen. Your loved one may hurt or kill themselves or, heaven forbid, someone else. Do you feel safe as a passenger when this person is driving? If you answered no, then take the keys away.” –Grandma1954

“If you have access to a professional who can assess the senior’s ability, then you should consider it. If your loved one has dementia, keep in mind that their condition could decline the day after, so the assessment would not be a guarantee of their ability as soon as it is concluded.” –Sunnygirl1

“I agree that when this question of driving starts occurring to you, it’s time to start the process of taking the keys away. And from my experience, it is a process. I don’t think anyone just hands over their keys willingly. It can be a battle, but it’s a fight worth fighting. You wouldn’t want your loved one to become disoriented while driving or misjudge a situation on the road to realize that it’s time for them to stop driving. Don’t wait for something to happen. Instead, try to prevent something from happening.” –Eyerishlass

“When I was facing this question with my mother-in-law about 15 years ago, a friend asked me, ‘Would you let your children ride in the car with her?’ Since I absolutely would not, that was my answer. I knew it was time to get rid of the car.” –akdaughter

“AARP offers a program called ‘We Need to Talk’ for families who are concerned about their loved one’s ability to drive safely. They offer it in person or, if there’s no location close to you, online.” –IsntEasy

“I advise adult children to go driving with their family members. Some warning signs of unsafe driving include:

  • Forgetting how to locate familiar places
  • Failing to observe traffic signals
  • Making slow or poor decisions
  • Problems with changing lanes or making turns
  • Hitting the curb while driving
  • Driving at an inappropriate speed (esp. under the speed limit)
  • Lane crossing
  • Failing to check blind spots
  • Failing to look both ways before entering traffic

In Ontario, seniors have to have a driving test, but, ultimately, physicians can take away a driving license.” –JenJilks

“Certain medications can contribute to unsafe driving, too. Driving while impaired by prescription meds in most states is the same as driving while impaired by alcohol and yields similar punishment and penalties. Both can kill people, too. I would treat them the same with regard to preventing a family member from doing it. I would take the keys, call their doctor, etc. If someone gets angry because you prevent them from driving while impaired, then you did the right thing. Hurt feelings on my part and/or my impaired family member is worth getting them off the road. You may eventually be able to adjust their medications so they are able to drive safely once more.” –Sunnygirl1

Ashley Huntsberry-Lett

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Ashley is responsible for the planning and creation of AgingCare.com’s award-winning content. As a teenager, she assisted in caring for her step-father during his three-year battle with colon cancer. Now, through her work at AgingCare.com, she strives to inform and empower the caregivers who devote so much to helping and healing the ones they love.

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7 Comments

I am on the "on-call" chauffeur. Gimme a break!!
OMG right? The Drs like the Medicare payments I assume!!! I refused to give in to the 2-3 months and insisted it be at least 4-6 months unless there was a real problem!! And of course if something came up one can make another appointment. My Mom has (among other things) macular degeneration so she was going 2x/month but now it's not as often. I don't mind the driving so every time I go out I always make sure to ask if she needs anything or wants to go for the ride. I haven't been doing this for 7 years. I just took the keys from her last month but was mostly taking her everywhere anyway, so when she had the accident....it was OVER.
There are hundreds of volunteer-based transportation programs in the U. S., that cost nothing to the passenger. Contact the National Volunteer Transportation Center nationalvolunteertransportationcenter website.