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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?

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My mother also thought she should be allowed to drive after a month in hospital from viral encephalitis and a month of rehab. Her short term memory function is totally affected, as well as her organizational skills and vocabulary recall. We just continued to tell her the drs advised us she should not drive. Reminded her that if she had accident she could be sued and lose all the financial assets daddy left her. She is in assisted living for now and will never drive again so I want my sister who has POA to get rid of the car. Friends have shared many of the same stories of how their parents rationalize the need to keep driving. Do everything in your power to stop them. Contact the drs, dmv, and all family members should know better than to enable them. It can be done compassionately and with little stress. Sometimes cars just give out if you know what I mean. Batteries die, connections somehow are not connecting, or the shop just can’t figure why it won’t stay cranked! Tell them anything but do not let them risk hurting someone else on the road.
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While the family is in the process of arranging evaluations, I would prevent him from driving. Whatever it takes so that he doesn't hurt himself,a loved one, an innocent victim. It's a shame that we have laws to take alcohol and drug impaired drivers off the road (not perfect,I realize) but it's so difficult to intervene when an elder is involved.
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What about contacting the department of motor vehicles to determine how to initiate a driver's test for an older adult? In my state, when a driver reaches a certain age, they are required to retest for their license.
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careinhome Jan 15, 2020
And in the meantime for the 2 or 3 weeks to set up how many people on the road are being put at risk?
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Whatever it takes, get rid of the car. Period.
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The ever popular OMG! SENIORS DRIVING !! thread.

I skimmed through, lots of good advice but some not so good advice on disabling a car.

The car will have to be moved and sold at some point. I don’t advise pulling spark plug and distributor cables. Newer cars don’t have distributors and it’s very easy to get the plug wires mixed up when you try to put them back. Don’t let the air out of the tires either, PIA to get them pumped back up. Removing the battery can be quite a job also. Not necessary.

Easiest way to disable a car:

Find the fuse/relay box under the hood or drivers side under dash. Small black box.

Get the cover off. Usually just snaps off. I need my glasses and a flashlight for this.

You will see different colors of fuses and larger cube like gizmos, these are relays. They just plug in.

Look on the underside of the fuse box lid. There will be an index. Find the one that says STARTER, START SYSTEM, or some such description.

Pull this out. Put it in your pocket or hide in a safe place where grandad won’t find it.

When he tries to start the car it’s dead. No click, no nothing.
you tell him you’ll get it towed. After bedtime, plug in relay, drive car away.

In my dads case I also called the repair shop my dad used and the dealer and clued them in as to what was going on in case dad had the wherewithal to try to get the car fixed or towed.
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MissingCally Jan 13, 2020
That is too much, just take the keys.
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In NY when it came time for my father to stop driving I ask his Dr. about removing his license. The Dr. refused saying he didn't want to be the bad guy. My father had on more than one occasion gotten the brake and gas mixed up. He also had had several minor fender benders and at one time while I was riding with him almost hit some children to close to the road. He denied ever seeing them. He also would drive on the wrong side of the road and would get confused about the ramps and go the wrong way on the divided highway. I contacted the DMV in Albany and requested a review of my father's driving skills siting these events. They were very nice and sent him a letter saying he needed to come to the DMV on a certain Date and time and take his written and road test. When the day arrived he was a wreck. The tester just got in the car in the driver's seat and ask for my father's license. My father handed him a card that he carried that said "I'm not drunk, I have Parkinson's disease." The man thanked him and requested his drivers license. Once he had the license he wrote down a few things and gave a letter to my father that said if his condition improved that in 6 weeks he could retake his road test and get his license back. My father said until the day he died that he was going to go take that test and get his license back. At least that gave him the hope of being able to get it back. He never tried to drive after that.
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Louise315 Jan 22, 2020
That is so interesting! My father has not tried to drive after his doctor told him “he absolutely could not drive!” but often rages about it, and complains about the doctor. His new doctor has done something similar to that man who gave your father the “second chance.” She has given him goals to accomplish, but never told him he would never drive again. That seems to be very important for some elderly men.
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Kentucky, does you mom depend on your dad to drive? Is this why she's resistant to him giving up driving? I have 2 elderly aunts in FL who have lived together their whole lives. One had her license, the other one never got hers, but they went everywhere together anyway so it didn't matter. About 6 years ago the non-driver (who has all her mental capacities) was telling me how she had to "help" her sister drive (the sister has dementia) by telling her where and when to turn, warning her when she was drifting out of her lane, telling her when the light was red or green, etc. I just about passed out. I could not convince the "rational" one why they shouldn't be driving because it impacted her just as much. So we immediately discreetly took away the keys (they got "lost"), then removed the car for "repairs". I then reported them anonymously. But while waiting for the DMV to call her in for a test I engaged family, friends and neighbors to take them where ever they needed to go: haircuts, med appts, shopping. I secretly provided the drivers with gc's to restaurants so they would all go out to eat together as well. The aunts really enjoyed the social interaction and basically didn't mourn the loss of driving for long. Now they have an in-home companion from an agency who can drive them anywhere. Problem solved.

What I'm saying is that if you can replace your dad's driving for your mom, this may make solving this problem a little easier if you get one of the enablers appeased. Good luck!
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I know in Florida, where my demented mom lived.  Her doctor requested that she take a driving test.  It was a special consultant who took her out on the driving road test (I believe it was a contractor through the DMV.  Her doctor referred her to this contractor/consultant).  She failed and said she had to go to DMV to turn in her driver's license.  Yes, the hard part is taking the car away - realizing they can still drive without a driver's license.  It's too bad the states don't take the extra step of physically taking the car away - the DMV or the consultant/contractor should ask ahead of time who their POA is - so that the state/DMV can work with the POA in removing the vehicle.
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disgustedtoo Jan 6, 2020
I agree that the states/doctors need to do more to help US in this matter. I found a site that lists the general gist of all 50 states "rules" about driving with dementia, and most lack any real "bite", with MA being among the dumbest (self-reporting by someone with dementia? hahahaha) But the states can't really take the car away as it is private property. There could also be a secondary owner/driver who needs it. About the best they could do is have it impounded if they drive it in for the test and fail... It would cost $ to get it back, but at least it would be unavailable, for a little while...

Asking who is POA might not work either, as some people don't have this set up (there are those who refuse to assign a POA, thinking they will be losing all control as soon as they sign it, even though it doesn't kick in until they are not capable!)
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You could report him to the DMV or have your doctor do it. Then he will have to take and pass the driving test.
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worriedinCali Jan 6, 2020
in some states, they only make you take an eye test. And it bears repeating—taking away a drivers license doesn’t stop people from driving.
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I think everyone understands that getting the drivers license revoked is just the first step.  It's a little hard to take someone's car away from them when the state still recognizes them as a valid driver.  Once revoked, selling the vehicle or dismantling the vehicle is what you have to do to keep the demented person from driving.
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disgustedtoo Jan 6, 2020
First step should be removing access to the car itself. removing it isn't stealing it. Meanwhile, work on getting the license revoked. This is really a back up plan, as having it revoked is not going to change this man's mindset. In his head he is fine and can drive just fine thank you. License or not, he's going to get in it and drive it, so it is best to remove it.

Selling can't be done unless 1) someone has POA and 2) that someone has documentation showing he is impaired and can't make decisions. You cannot sell something you don't own.
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Take off the Plates...xx
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NYDaughterInLaw Jan 6, 2020
I like this answer a lot! If someone took off the plates to my car, I'd notice. If the driver doesn't notice, that's a problem. If the driver notices and drives anyway, that's a problem. These drivers should not be enabled to drive by anyone.

They're call driving privileges - driving is not a right. My friend's sister was killed by an old woman who should not have been driving. She hit her and then backed over her because she was confused. Her victim may have survived the initial hit - she was going less than 30 mph - but she was killed when crushed by the car. Frankly, I think the woman should have gone to jail but the legal system took pity on the "poor old woman"...."hasn't she suffered enough"..."punishing her isn't going to bring your sister back". My friend has never been the same since her sister died. Her family was shattered.
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I’ve read about 30 of the responses and my story is much the same. 91 yo mom with dementia. In Cali all DMV will do is revoke, they can’t keep her from actually getting in the car. Mom passed the written test, the eye test but failed miserably on the driving test. (I refused to take her so sis took). Now mom is appealing the decision. It’s a week away and she’ll probably/hopefully forget the date. I live with her and there is another caregiver so she can’t sneak away. And she can’t get her walker in the car 🙏
Just think how you’ll feel when he hurts/kills himself or someone else. Take the car and they keys away. They will forget about it sooner or later. The rest of your enabling family should be shamed... to put lives in danger.
Good luck
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https://www.wikihow.com/Replace-an-Ignition-Switch
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rovana Jan 5, 2020
Great info Thanks!!
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if you take away the car, you will take away one of his reasons for living. Clearly driving is very important to him. Im guessing by his age that cars were just invented when he was a kid. Probably his big dream when he was young was owing a big shiny car. And im guessing he's probably a good driver
Surprisingly so for his age.
If he was clear minded enough to reclaim his car he's doing better than most
Don't make any rash decisions. Give it a little time & consideration.
There are always solutions to every struggle.
Your father sounds like quite a character. Enjoy him while he's still here
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Geaton777 Jan 5, 2020
Sunshine, he will adjust if he is transitioned out of driving. People he injures or kill won't! My 96-yo uncle killed his wife and dog and injured other people because family members didn't want to "take away his reason for living". It turned out his wife was his reason for living. Once she was gone and he was the cause, he rapidly declined and died. Fortunately, the other victims weren't seriously hurt, but could have been. In no way should a dangerous driver be on the road for any reason. My MIL went straight into a stopsign in her neighborhood during school release time and could have easily hit some kids. She didn't even remember the incident. This is before we realized how bad she was. I've transitioned 4 seniors out of driving and all of them adjusted. Please, please do not have this attitude about yourself or any senior LOs in your life. Being "a character" is only "enjoyable" if he doesn't hurt or kill himself or others.
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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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Even if the person doesn't have a driver's license, it will not stop him from driving. Best to disable the vehicle. Pull out the spark plugs, detach the thingy from the battery, hide the keys. Every time they ask for the key, you will just have to make a show of frantically and thoroughly searching for it. Whatever you do, do not let the insurance expire. That just makes the situation worse, especially if he gets into an accident. If the injured party cannot go after the insurance company, they will go after him or the family...
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disgustedtoo Jan 5, 2020
Best to keep insurance and registration active until the car can be sold, HOWEVER, the insurance can refuse to pay if they find out the person shouldn't be driving (doc had reported OP's dad.)
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Have someone disconnect the battery cables
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Kentuckywoman Jan 5, 2020
Yes, we did unplug the spark plugs and some other important part but there is always someone like the tow truck driver who can fix it. Removed it to a cousin's farm way far away but Dad quizzed the cousin as to it's whereabouts so the cousin returned it. I am taking other more decisive steps as soon as I can make the 2 1/2 hour trip home to do so.
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My Mother in Law (MIL) had an accident a couple years ago, but didn't remember it. We discovered it a 4 days later when we came to visit, but didn't see her car. After finding it had not been towed from her apartment complex, we had her call to report it stolen. The officer reminded her that she had been in an accident and it was towed from the accident site, did she remember? Apparently the officer responding to the accident had reported to DMV that she was confused. We later got paperwork for her doctor to fill out and her license was revoked. She still says occasionally that she never should have given up her license and her car, and gets angry about it. But after several accidents, it's a good thing she doesn't drive anymore.
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worriedinCali Jan 5, 2020
Sounds like the elderly lady that rear ended me 8 years ago except her car was driveable and she drove him. But the night of the accident she called the police because she didn’t know what happened to her car (she was trying to report a hit & run because she didn’t know why her front end was crunched). And after she slammed in to me, she got out of the drivers seat and sat in the backseat! And she was very confused. The officer reported her to the DMV, hopefully her license was revoked and she stopped driving.
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Disable the auto by removing an element.
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With the advent of online shopping and work from home opportunities the need to drive becomes less and less.
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disgustedtoo Jan 5, 2020
Yeah, tell that to a 90+ YO with an 8 cylinder killer tank (Grand Marquis), who has no need to work at all, home or not, AND has no idea how to use a computer.

The car must go and arrangements be made to use/provide transport for their needs. People in the condition/age bracket are NOT up with the "advents" of time. They are used to what they have been doing for years and will try to continue that. If you say 'then teach them how to use the computer', then I say you know nothing about dementia.
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Talk to your Alzheimer's Association, the Police, and the DMV. They WILL step in and solve the problem for you and just as my Mother-- your Dad will quickly forget he ever drove and become quite dependent on you and others for rides to the doc and all-- might wanna get him in an assisted living as well for his own safety--- also via other folks like Adult Protective Services. Oh--- DMV HAS to take away his driver's license-- their job-- hold their feet to the fire-- call the cops on them--- nothing worse than a lazy administrator. Consult your local Alzheimer's support group and Alzheimer's Association county representatives. (211).
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DugganB Jan 3, 2020
I forgot-- his Doctor must MOTIVATE the DMV to take his Driver's license. Doctor's Orders-- do not fall prey to any advice that the DMV is absolvable of their state responsibility-- explain to them you have a lawyer who loves to sue and he ain't cheap and he always wins and the Losers Lose Big Time.
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Kentucky, this is a classic 'tough nut', as I'm sure you know. EVERY situation is different, but in this forum, you'll get so many ideas and others' experiences to be able to guide yourselves (or so I hope and pray). I believe my mom (now 90) was 84-85. DMV said they couldn't legally do anything (like a DV victim not being protected until 'something actually happens'). DMV also told me that 'most seniors will self-select at some point to quit driving. Well, that'd be swell IF... on maybe 3 occasions I played 'passenger' solely to monitor her abilities. Honestly, to say it was 'hair raising' is hugely minimizing. It was truly a miracle (or good luck) she didn't sideswipe a car (parked or not), or drift into an oncoming lane for a head-on (mind you, this is PURELY local driving, no freeways!). Sisters weren't 'boots on the ground'--it was just me. SO, one day she took herself to local urgent care for a UTI (literally not 1/2 mi. away). The staff upon checkout asked for her driver's license; they made a copy of it and gave it right back; and because of the legal requirement of a medical provider, they legally filed a report (form) with DMV, who eventually suspended her license (via mail). Mom wanted to 'fight it', but wasn't capable of dealing with the beuerocracy on her own (no computer, inability to navigate to labrynth of red tape). I just kept putting off helping her with that idea (she tried my younger sis, but she did the same thing). Anyway, mom finally ceded the battle. Some folks (including my therapist) were p/o'd and said the Urgent Care 'tricked her' into giving her license to them, questionable legality, so on. Best to you all!
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rovana Jan 5, 2020
Good for urgent care!! No shame "tricking" anyone in this kind of situation.
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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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Time for an intervention with the local sheriff's department. Talk to them first and have them "help" the whole family to understand that it is "illegal" for dad to drive anymore. Then, get that vehicle sold so it isn't a temptation.
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Davenport Jan 3, 2020
Taarna, I had a coworker whose mom lived alone in very remote Oklahoma. Naturally, the sheriffs were aware of her, so all the kids called them after they'd not been able to reach mom for a full day. Sheriffs went right out and found her fairly quickly. (She'd become lost.) Mom had dementia, clearly. It progressed quite quickly after that incident, mom passed within a year (Alzheimer's).
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Some women are very timid when it comes to taking over when their spouse is no longer competent to perform life skills. I agree with 2 other posts: Take the keys, Hide the car and sell it. No doubt he is confused at his age and will not remember what actually happened. Please SAVE him from killing himself or others!
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Davenport Jan 3, 2020
I repeat, each situation is uniquely challenging. Just saying this because, I believe none of us can predict how 'mom', 'dad', etc. will react. I'd be hesitant to say that they 'won't remember' what actually happened if/when keys &/or car disappears. They might go berserk on the caregiver.
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This is funny as just the other day as I was driving to the grocery, and elderly man was driving on the wrong side of the road, just tootling along. It was quite a site to see as this was one dangerous and busy intersection. Everybody and I mean everybody literally stopped where they were and let him pass. Never in all my years of driving have I seen something like this. I hope and pray he got home safely.
I do understand why we see things like this though and it truly saddens me to see seniors without any family or help. If they need groceries or medicine they have do what they have to do, laws or not will not stop a determined senior.
We as a community really need to take the time to see that our elderly neighbors and family are taken care of, the way it used to be.
I was lucky with my Mom, she handed over the keys willingly, knowing she had a full time chauffeur (me) on call. Yet, to be sure we did buy the car from her, so it was not available in case she decided to go for a spin.
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Davenport Jan 3, 2020
Hopefully, at least one of the other drivers got and reported license plate # to local police, sheriff. Clearly, the poor guy is a danger to society, and they WILL follow up with him.

You were VERY luck your mom gave up her keys! Good idea to buy the car from her. 'Our' people are unpredictable and may forget that they 'don't drive anymore'.
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I took my dad to the DMV about a year after I brought him to FL to live with me. He had a broken hip and was through with rehab. Left his car in AL as he had been screwed over on his last trade in and was hitting things. At the FL DMV I told them he needed a state ID only. They smiled and said ok. He was in a wheelchair, so nobody asked any questions. He tells me continuously he is going to go get another car or the Navy is bringing him one. It’s so sad, but there is no way he can drive anymore. We just have to be determined
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Davenport Jan 3, 2020
God bless you, geoblue.
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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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Have someone disconnect the distributor cap and the car won't start but it wouldn't hurt the car and then hope he doesn't remember the mechanics name. If you know the mechanics name contact him about your father's mental impairment and have him work with you so he doesn't fix it. Hopefully he won't use someone else to fix it. Or you can have the outside locks changed and don't give him a key also. When having rekeyed done also have the oil changed and if he questions you tell him you were taking it in to get a oil change, which you did and you have a receipt to prove it. Usually his primary doctor has a responsibly to notify the DMV to take away his driver's licence and his car insurance will be discontinued as well. Have the doctor note to DMV mentioned is is mentally impaired and not capable of driving. If you take away his car he may go to the dealershop to purchase another car, than the dealership will have some legal obligation not to sell him a car, first he has no license that is required on a purchase contact and he can not be hand responsible for the the purchase contract due he not mentally sound to sign any contact. You may want to find a cheap outside service for seniors on a fixed income to use to go to places and make arrangement with them to contact a son or daughter when he uses them so you have the needed payment for coming and going AND also know where he is so no senior missing alects aren't activated when he goes missing. To bad he isnt in a facility the has memory care - generally they are a locked facility that their residents are monitored all the time. When their a spouse involve it just things that must harder because your battlingvtwo people instead of one. You need to be firm to keep the from being hurt or sued for hurting others and loss everything they work hard for all there lifes. Good luck.
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Davenport Jan 3, 2020
My mom would've called AAA in a heartbeat and have that ol' starter fixed in no time!
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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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