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Our father is 94 was told several years ago to stop driving. Our mother and other family members refuse to intervene even though he can no longer make phones calls, fix a sandwich, etc. We children have taken the vehicle but he managed to reclaim it, doctors reported him to bureau of motor vehicles but all to no avail. What to do?

I had to do this with my 85 year old mother..."you" turn them into the DMV; a direct family member. You have to find and fill out the proper paperwork...they cannot do anything until that's done. There is no anonymous reporting so there's that. After I turned her in to the DMV she received a letter to go down and take a routine test and until she did, her driver's license was suspended. I could not live with the fact that she could kill someone's family, innocent kids and teenagers just starting out...it haunted me for a week and I could wait no longer, so I did turn her in.

My family no longer talks to me saying I violated her rights. She was put on hospice 6 months later and had a good death at home. I am an RN IV which I put on the DMV document to testify she was, in fact, a danger on the road. I was also blamed for her death as she wasn't put on hospice until I arrived and I was the one who initiated the hospice referral and took care of all the details for the home death.

I have no family now but I do have peace knowing I took a very dangerous person off the road before they killed innocent people. Driving is a privilege that is earned and maintained through proving you still qualify for that privilege. I am also at peace knowing I gave my mom the proper, respectful death at home that wouldn't have happened had I not been there.

A bit of a back story of how this all came about. I had moved from HI to WA state after determining my mother needed my help. When I arrived at her home I was horrified to find her car had a few large dents. She had an excuse for every dent. When I rode in the car with her driving, she could not stay on the right side of the rode and her judgment for distance was gone...I could not believe we survived the ride.

She lived out in the country in a small town so no one held her accountable. I also discovered she was on multiple meds; adderall, valium, pain meds, ambien & more...her medical Dx was much worse with chronic high blood pressure, pace maker, complete heart block etc...you get the picture and she slipped into long moments with what I will call in layman terms madness. I would find her with random fits of hysteria, she thought everyone was stealing from her and moving the furniture to confuse her, she was hearing and seeing what wasn't there, and yes, she was still driving on public roads with the blessing of the rest of the family...yea.

I do not regret what I did and it got real nasty. I tortured myself with am I doing the right thing, am I wrong: then visions of mangled dead people would enter my mind with my mother standing over them and I would cry...if it had not been a direct family member, I would have never hesitated. I tried to incorporate the help of her doc because I knew he had to know and he brushed me off. I then told the doc I was doing a medication review on her med profile that he was prescribing my mother. He suddenly moved if you can believe that...he actually closed down his practice and disappeared. Take care of your loved ones people.

Don't be afraid to do the right thing...
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Maryjann Jan 3, 2020
What you did was heroic. I'm sorry your "family" couldn't see that. Other families in that small community have no ideas that there is a decent chance that they would be mourning a preventable death if you had not acted. People get too close to see the big picture. Since you are an RN, I'm sure the "visions of mangled people" were very accurate. I'm sorry for your loss. But thank you.
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Do whatever you have to do to either disable the car or take the keys. A dear friend's daughter was in a horrific accident a few years ago. The driver who hit her was an elderly man with dementia, whose kids KNEW he couldn't, and shouldn't drive. He didn't remember much of the accident. My friend's daughter now has permanent brain damage, affecting her memory, her speech and her cognitive ability. She will need specialized treatment and therapy for the rest of her life. She was a year from graduating from college, so she's trying to finish that final year but is only able to take 1-2 classes at a time. Another passenger in the car has permanent neck problems, causing her awful pain. What I'm trying to say is no matter how much the patient protests, you HAVE to take away their ability to drive, because they may not hurt themselves, but any other innocent driver on the road. When they went to reclaim her daughter's car at the junkyard, the other man's son said to her, "Yeah, we knew he was going to hit someone some day. He always goes through that stop sign....." Needless to say they are pursuing legal action.
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Reply to Gracie65
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Cancelled insurance and a revoked license don’t stop people from driving. Do we all understand that? Not everyone will willingly turn their revoked license in to the DMV and refrain from driving. There’s literally tens of thousands of people who are driving on suspended or revoked licenses in this country.
I wouldn’t cancel the insurance until AFTER the car is completely gone and he has absolutely no access to any vehicle. Because if he has an accident while driving uninsured, who do you think will be financially responsible? What you need to do is figure out who is enabling him to continue driving and either get them to cut it out OR call the cops every time you know he is behind the wheel. As someone with a parent who has absolutely no business driving but refuses to stop and as someone who’s parent had their license taken away at one point & yet he continued to drive....my heart goes out to you because I know what a terrible situation this is and how hard it is to get them to stop driving! So much easier said than done.
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DrBenshir Jan 8, 2020
If insurance is cancelled and license revoked, you can call the police. They will impound the car and the driver, if caught driving, will spend a night in jail. There is no recourse since he can't legally buy another car.
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If a person with dementia doesn't have the capacity to understand the danger they represent, then taking away their license won't mean anything either. The car needs to be gone if possible. Expecting someone who can no longer reason to be reasonable is never going to happen.
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Reply to GranJan
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Enablers can sometimes blind everyone to what is going on. When it came time for mom to renew her license, my YB had not told me about an expensive accident she had (no one hurt, just some serious $) Because she has trouble with the eye machines, she got a note from her eye doctor and I took her to the DMV. Not too long after that, she got into another accident - again, I helped out by getting it from where it was towed to the place she had it repaired before. This is how I learned about the previous accident, when he told me that he had already replaced the "nose" before (front end, ~6k ea time.) She had said she "brushed" the telephone pole. Once it was moved, we went to check it out and make arrangements... Oh my! If that is brushing the pole, I would hate to see what hitting it full tilt would be!

Thankfully no one was hurt. IF I had been aware of the first accident, I might not have enabled her to renew her license. It would have been simple enough - even she was worried the cops would "pull" her license after the recent accident (not likely - perhaps, but usually it isn't enough.)

About this time she was not going far anymore and not driving at night, thankfully. It was mainly local stores, no more than a mile or so. The next indication was the missing plastic on the driver side mirror. Could have been anyone who did this, not just mom, but she was oblivious - "It was there the last time I drove it!" Around the same time we found the inspection sticker expired (many months.) As someone else said, driving is a privilege, not a right. When one no longer can maintain a car in good stead, understand the rules of the road and has no clue how their car was damaged, it is time to reassess!

So, the next, big indication was a call to say she needed help with a flat tire. I brought my tire pump down, and just stood with wonderment at what she had done - the tire was split from the rim to the ground and the metal trim around the wheel well was bent up and away... No idea if she drove it with a flat or hit something, but the rim was also damaged and the rear tire needed replacement too. There were also nice white stripes on both front fenders from scraping against the garage door trim.

I had AAA put the spare on and had it brought to my mechanic to get fixed. Then had chat with YB saying we need to take this away. I do understand that many will say this is their property and we have no business taking it, BUT out of concern for her and anyone she might injure or kill, I would take the chance that she might call someone to intervene!!

YB did all the talking and took the key. Her face was like a 5 yr old who was caught in the cookie jar. I only stood behind him, and on the way out suggested disabling it as I was sure she had another key (he pulled the battery cable.) Next day, who gets the nasty call/message about her key? Me of course. When I returned her call I could honestly say I never touched her key. She was so nasty to me that when she asked who did, I just replied 'You're so smart, YOU figure it out." and hung up. Day 2, an even nastier call demanding that I get down there RIGHT NOW and fix whatever I did to her car. Found the spare, she did! Again I could honestly say I never touched the car (I suggested the "fix", but never touched it!) So she asks what's wrong with it. Now I can say I'm not a mechanic, I don't know what's wrong with it (fib, but necessary.)

At some point we removed it from where she was living and never returned it. She whined. She moaned. She complained. She maintained that she "didn't go far", to which I replied "I don't care if you go 2 feet, if you hit someone you will lose EVERYTHING." Periodically she continued the whining, but eventually that morphed into her saying "The worse decision I ever made was to give up my wheels.", like it was HER idea! Eventually even that went away.

Out of sight, out of mind (and out of access!)
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Reply to disgustedtoo
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How does he manage to get it back? If YOU take the car away for "repairs" and put it in a location unknown to him he can't readily get it back unless he is getting inside help (especially if you disable it: remove battery, unplug wiring, etc). Who is the DPoA for him? This person should sell the car and cancel the insurance asap. If no one has DPoA for him, then have the doc give you or your mom (or whomever is his MPoA) a physical letter saying he has dementia and should not be driving. You can go into the DMV website for his state and make an anonymous report of his dangerous driving. They will send a letter calling him in for an eye or road test. No one should "help" him get to the DMV for this (including your mom...just in case he passes). I've done this for 4 seniors. It works. Your dad will be angry in general, but think about him endangering others or himself. My 96-yr old uncle killed his wife and dog in an accident he caused because no one wanted to be the "bad guy". We will all be at this point if we live long enough. A bad driver is a bad driver. It would be helpful to discretely arrange for family, friends and neighbors to take him places and to appointments. He will enjoy the company more than the loss of driving. Is your mom still driving? Is she the one getting the car back? If so, family needs to have a discussion with her. I totally understand that it's not easy nor pleasant, and also sad. I wish you good luck and peace in your heart knowing this is the right thing to do.
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DrBenshir Jan 5, 2020
One very nice elderly patient came to me for help getting his license back. He said he needed to drive his wife to doctors appointments because she has chronic pain from the accident. The accident that he caused when driving, that almost killed both of them and did kill someone else.

Not everyone can self regulate. Spouses are often enablers because they are also too old and frail to fight back. The only answer to someone who no longer is a safe driver is to stop them from driving.
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You have to be the bad guy and take the vehicle away or disable it. Just imagine for a few minutes facing the family of someone he has killed and trying to explain why he was still driving! That should give you the courage to go take remove or disable the vehicle.
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Reply to MammaDrama
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I have been there but 94 years old with dementia, can't fix a sandwich or make phone calls even when numbers can be programmed... but he can manage to track down his car after it was confiscated. It's not fun to take the keys away and it's not easy to take the vehicle away. Nothing is fun about Dementia or getting too old to drive but the combination is lethal. If he kills someone with driving at his age and in his condition he will lose everything he and your mother have left. I suspect your mother does not want to give up her independence of him not being able to drive anymore and the rest of your family and to some extent you are just doing what is easiest.... nothing. I know it seems harsh and may be a little inconvenient for the rest of you but it needs to be done. Try harder!
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Davenport Jan 3, 2020
Aw, sorry for your experience Pamble. I send you my blessings, prayers, and support.
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So what will your mother say to the family of the person he kills? Oh, I did not want to upset him?

The insurance will not be valid, so where will Mum live when she loses the house in the lawsuit to cover the damages when he has an accident?

It is easier for your family to not rock the boat. Easier to ignore the new dings in the car. Easier to not stand your grand and tell Dad, No, you cannot drive and that is that.

How on earth did Dad reclaim the vehicle?
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Reply to Tothill
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I don’t even see how this is debatable. He has been enabled. He took advantage of that enabling and drove. I pray to God he never kills anyone. The only answer is to remove the car. If there is no car around, then there is nothing to drive. Just sell the car if no one has figured out how to remove the car successfully. Why keep a car that shouldn’t be driven?
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Maryjann Jan 3, 2020
I hope this works, but it may be in his name?
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