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My mom has been a mess for a decade. In a nutshell, dad passed away 2 years ago, mom has been in & out of ER/hospital, substance abuse rehab, skilled nursing rehab, for 8 years now. I got her into assisted living a year ago at which time she was in a wheelchair. She was such a mess they moved her into memory care for 2-3 months because "regular" ALF staff could not manage her. So....they got her into physical & occupational therapy and after months of that, we now have a miraculous recovery and she's using a walker or cane. Now, she's hell-bent on getting her car brought to the facility and starting to drive again. Yikes. I am an only child, there is nobody else to help me stop the insanity. She's not driven since about August of 2020. She has conceded to take some sort of "driving" test from a private school in January, her license comes up for renewal in February. Mom is turning 80 in February. I am assuming the driving instructor will take one look at her and refuse to get in the car if she is behind the wheel.


I am not in a position to sell her car out from under her. Technically she's her own person in terms of making decisions. The ALF she lives at is in the next town over and honestly I try to see her as little as possible for my own sanity.


I assume at some point, someone will step in and say "No way Jose" regarding her driving. However, shockingly the eye doctor just signed off on his part last week (confirming her vision is OK) and it seems everyone just smiles and pretends it's all just fine. She has major balance problems and her last two cars have scratches all over the front ends from parking mishaps over the past 5 years or so. Also, eventually the liquor store will be a destination. So I am also concerned about liability here.


I thought I was free a while back when she was in memory care, but here she is threatening independence again. I cannot take another round.

I think it should somehow be outlawed for folks to have only one child. It seems like we only children have THE most difficult parent(s) who live to be 100 and wind up killing us before they pass away. Our mothers have also mastered the art of showtiming to the point where WE look like the bad guys and they look like the sweet, innocent little old ladies they're NOT, all while manipulating their way through every nook & cranny of life.

All I know is that seniors have all these RIGHTS and their children seem to have NONE. When your mother goes out in the car she has a RIGHT to drive and winds up killing someone, I'd like to hear about her RIGHTS then.

If it were me and this was my mother trying to drive, I'd have the car hauled away to the junkyard before I'd see her behind the wheel. Period. She could yell and scream and pitch a fit all she wanted to, but it'd be on HER to figure out how to go about buying another one w/o MY help.

Done and done.
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Reply to lealonnie1
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If you are not her PoA and you have no real reason to prevent her from driving, they you will need to sit on the sidelines and watch. Be passive aggressive and just don't help her get her vehicle and license back -- especially if you have no real proof she's a danger on the road. Unfortunately, you are the person to step in and say, "No way Jose" to her. No one else will be doing this.

If I were in your shoes (and I have been 4 times) I would stall her until after her license expires. Then don't take her to get it renewed. Don't take her to her car. Don't bring it to her. Does her facility have a van or bus service? Get her connected with another mode of transportation. Does she have the financial means to support a car? Pay for gas and maintenance? Parking? Insurance? If not, then there's another reason to stall her.
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Reply to Geaton777
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I have an aunt in South FL who is very aged, had the beginnings of dementia, terrible eyesight and had her sister co-piloting her on their driving adventures. Their car looked like it had been in a pin-ball machine. I went online and anonymously reported her as an unsafe driver. I provided her license # and gave specifics about why she is a danger. She received a letter from the DMV to come it to retake her eye exam at the facility. She didn't pass it. If she had IDK if they were going to give her a behind-the-wheel or not. Since your mom's in FL, you can do this, too. She'll never know she was reported.
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Reply to Geaton777
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Professional opinion here: All states have laws regarding return to driving after any medical incident that could impair the person. Contact the DMV and get a copy of your state law. You can find this online. Most states require that Mom pass a specific type of evaluation, performed by a licensed professional. This is NOT done by a driving school or at the DMV. It is done by a PT or OT, specifically trained and licensed to evaluate cognitive function, motor skills, speed of reflexes, and perform a behind-the-wheel evaluation. This will cost Mom $500-800 out-of-pocket (or more) depending on the state and the tests done. If they do the intake, cognitive tests, and speed of reflex testing and determine that she is not safe to return to drive, they will refund the balance and will not take her on the road. This process has an additional safeguard - they are legally required report findings to the DMV. If unqualified to drive her license is either suspended pending a re-evalution or revoked. If she does have her license revoked she will need to send it back to the DMV. In Maryland they will actually come pick it up if you don't send it in to exchange for a non-driving ID. She can get a new license when she is able to pass the evaluation. If Mom actually contacts a driving school, send them a copy of the law. They won't want the liability of getting her back on the road illegally. Finally, if she can pass the evaluation, then she is legally permitted to drive but in most states she will be required to re-test in one year. Any accidents will be cause for revocation of her license.
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Reply to DrBenshir
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geddyupgo Dec 24, 2021
Thanks for this excellent and timely information
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You can notify the DMV of an unsafe driver. They'll haul them in there for an administrative hearing -- at least here in California. They call it "Deteriorated Driving Abilities." Google it for your state, and it should bring up the way to report her.

If Mom's hell-bent on getting booze, though, you've got to find a way to disable her car if you can't sell it. You're fortunate that at least it isn't on the premises where she is. You have every right to refuse to bring the car to her, because it isn't your job to enable her to do dangerous things. If you think she can find a way to get to the car, you may want to have someone pull a spark plug wire or two -- something that isn't easily identifiable like disconnecting the battery. If the car won't start properly, well darn -- it must be because it's been sitting so long, and double darn that it's going to cost a fortune to diagnose and fix it. (It won't - just don't do it.)

I'm sorry you have to go through this.
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Reply to MJ1929
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MaryKathleen Dec 24, 2021
I live in California and when my husband had to go before the people who contract with the DMV. They bent over backward to let him keep his license. I was so outdone. A couple of months later his license expired and he failed the test. They kept letting him take it over and over and extending his license. After he got in an accident, I finally got his Doctor to tell him, he couldn't drive because since he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's if hurt someone, they would sue him, subpoena his medical records, win and take everything we have. That worked long enough for me to get rid of his truck.

I am of the camp, if she isn't fit to drive, just say you will get the car the next time you come. Then the battery would be dead, then the tires flat etc. If she finds a way to get it without Upstreams help, the chips will just have to fall where they may.
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Hi Upstream
It is amazing at what excellent care will do for those who have abused themselves for years.
This week I had a family member with mental issues gleefully call to report that a new “friend” had gifted her a car as long as she would drive him where he needed to go. I could hear him in the background sounding already inebriated. I can only imagine all the trouble this will bring as she also is an alcoholic and a free agent.
As you already know, you can’t control your mom. All you can do is not enable her in any way. You must have your reasons for not blocking her number and for continuing to help her manage her life.
Unless she reached some sort of epiphany while sober, I imagine she will be back to her old ways very soon.
I am happy that you have had this short reprieve from the madness.
I suspect all the professionals will deal with the person who appears before them as their job mandates. If mom shows up cognizant and sober, she will be processed accordingly.
Another poster’s mom was denied a license in one state and simply traveled to a second state to get her license renewed.
Wishing you and your DH a peaceful holiday season.
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Reply to 97yroldmom
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I have huge regrets for not trying harder to disable my fathers car when he was alive. He was a horribly stubborn nasty man and drove to the bank one day and drove from PA. to DE and then to MD. We called every hospital , the police, it was so frightening.( I was able to track him by stops he made using his debit card for fuel and snacks) He had my mother with him. She is incontinent and peed in the car seat. 24 hours later they returned. The police told us to take away his keys. Dad refused to hand them over. We flattened his tires. But he had an air compressor and aired them up again. After several months the DMV was going to finally pull his license, and two weeks before, he had a massive stroke and passed away. But in retrospect, we should have driven that car away and forced him to stop driving. Mom said he was driving on the wrong side of the road once. If he had killed our mother, or a car full of children, I would never have forgiven myself for not having tried harder to disable that car.
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Reply to Shari49
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Only child here, as well. Major imbalance problems and previous memory care stay seem to be good reasons for questioning her driving. Get your concerns on paper, being specific with dates and what you see changing in your mom and how it impacts her ability to continue driving. Send to her docs and to the state. Ask each if they think she should be driving.

I was able to do this with my mom, but it took over a year, due to COVID slowdown of government. But, it worked. She did not seek to get license reinstated, as she doesn’t want to go to doctor for an evaluation. She knows she shouldn’t drive.

I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about her safety AND the safety of all else on the road.

Good luck in dealing with this.
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Reply to Katsmihur
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Unfortunately, sometimes when people know that they have a problem, they can become good at hiding it in front of doctors. For example, my neighbor just turned 97 years old, still lives alone, cooks, cleans, and drives although she does not go very far anymore, only to church on Sundays and occasionally to the grocery store. She mowed her own grass until two years ago when she fell and broke her foot. She bounced back pretty well from that but at that point her daughter put her foot down and took the lawn mower away and hired someone to cut her grass. Although she has no health problems, her mind isn't as good as it once was and cannot hear very well and I worry about her still driving and living alone but there's really not much you can do. Why does your mom think she needs a car? Tell her that you'll be there to help her as much as possible. I started doing my neighbors grocery shopping for her so she doesn't have to drive to the store.
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Reply to mitchelll1sa
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Anybody thinking this "driving school" person will step-in in any way? Her physical therapist is the one who suggested she do this. I actually think it's a driving test and mom has been made to believe it is some sort of instructor. Honestly the government needs to require actual driving exams at this age. It's terrifying. I live in Florida and the driving here is atrocious. Driving is a priveledge, not a right. Her car is brand new (in 2020) because she totaled her old car in July of 2020. She's only driven about 300 miles since July of 2020. It's on a storage lot near my home. The place she lives at has a van at her beck & call but she wants to drive her own car. And yes that will likely mean the liquor store.
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Reply to Upstream
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cherokeegrrl54 Dec 24, 2021
If she has no regard for what her driving can do to others( should she hit a car and kills a family or children) where are all these people gonna be when this happens?? There are people on this forum that this has happened to. It’s definitely NOT right to help an elderly person who shouldn’t be driving. I live in south central Florida and now that a LOT of elderly are back for the winter, my mom and I have already had several close calls from elderly drivers whose tags are from up north, weaving in the lanes, turning too wide and missing moms new car by 1 foot! That happened just today!
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