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I live in Wisconsin and my father who just turned 100 lives in New York in a private home all alone. I speak with him many times a week. We came to visit via car to celebrate his 100th birthday and have stayed longer than we thought to take care of him. He is still driving! New York state issued him a license last year until 2017! But I have seen changes in him that really concern me and my husband. My father has been seeing a doctor for many years whose office is 45 minutes away. Dad wouldn't hear of switching to a closer doctor until I got a cousin to help persuade him as well. He finally agreed to switch and we took him to the new doctor in his own town.

This doctor listened to my concerns and made a referral to a neurologist for further evaluation. At the very least, I'm getting the ball rolling to have them give him another road test. Today my husband and I are touring assisted living facilities near his home.

Dad is angry with me for doing these things. He hasn't said it in these words - but he feels betrayed.

Because some days are better than others and he seems to be clearer some days, I find myself feeling guilty - Am I doing the right thing? I want to keep him and others safe. He wants me to leave him alone and allow him to continue to live alone, drive and exist how he has been doing for the 19 years since my mother died.

I am an only child and am relying on my husband to help me with this.

Am I doing the right thing? One minute I feel like I am responsible and another minute I feel like a heel for "betraying" my father.

Thanks for your support.

M

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I think you are doing the right thing as a responsible daughter and citizen. It is normal for your dad to feel betrayed. Our independence, dignity and selfrespect is the last thing we want to hold on to. Nevertheless, he can be a danger to himself and others on the road with so many irresponsible drivers who forget there may be impaired drivers trying to get by. It would be nice to offer to take him out and when he's used to it he may even be comfortable with the luxury of a volunteer chauffeur. You may want to discuss having someone look in on him twice a week to help out and see how this works to begin with. It's important to always communicate these things with him gently when he's relaxed and in a nice mood...let him know you care.
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Agrace -- thanks for your point of view as well.

Fortunately, my husband has helped to explain the assisted living arrangement and Dad has agreed to that. We think that once he's there, he'll have less and less reason to drive.

Much to do in the next two days - and things have been moving fast. But so far, we're mostly on the same page.

I'm feeling better about my role - although this is a roller coaster!
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I feel very sad for your dad to so quickly lose his independence.
My husband's daughter began making these changes for her father (we were not married at the time) and he was furious with her, and hired a lawyer to eventually shake her loose. I wish that his daughter had not forced the issue without discussing it with him, because we were going to go to the DMV ourselves to let them decide firsthand if he was still capable of handling a car.
My husband does have Alzheimer's, but as his wife, best friend, and now his legal guardian, I give him the right come to these conclusions himself. What I mean by this is that we talk about things thoroughly and decide what is the best solution. That way there is a natural progression to his life and the time to process the decision before he has to make a big change. It is a matter of respect and allows him the dignity to move on to the next stage.
I wish you and your family well in this journey. Let him know how much you love and value him....
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Thank you all for your wonderful support and comments.

We've been working fast and have spent the week seeking an assisted living facility and getting Dad to agree to move in. We're hoping to get him in on Friday!

Still working on the car issue!

Thank you all for your great comments.

I'm finding that Dad is not rational when it comes to these issues. He thinks he's invincible - much like a teenager. I'm feeling more and more these days like I'm dealing with a kid, not a 100 year old!
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My mother-in-law lives in NY and we are struggling with the same question. I learned that you can report potential problems with an elderly driver to the DMV, who will evaluate the case and may decide that additional tests (road, knowledge, vision, etc) are needed. If the driver doesn't comply, the license is suspended. In my opinion, you absolutely should take action - when an elderly person is on the road when they shouldn't be, they're not only risking their own lives, but those of others.
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You shouldn't feel guilty for wanting to keep your father and society safe. My mother started forgetting where she was going, had a couple small fender benders and I finally just took the keys from her. I told her that if she wanted to kill herself that was one issue but taking out a car full of kids would have destroyed me and left me guilty for life. Since mom thinks more like a child now, I have to think more like a parent to her. It took her a while to come to grips with it but now she knows I did the right thing. If you take the keys be prepared to take him to appointments, buy his groceries, etc. It means more work for you but you don't have to worry about them killing themselves and someone else with the car.
The way I finally got mom to stop complaining was this: I told her that I would drive her to the DPS and request that she take the driving test with a cop riding with her. If he approved her driving I would leave her alone. She decided not to worry about it anymore.
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We lost our dad in a car accident when he was 84. I knew for years he would die this way, and my husband and I were fervently hoping he wouldn't take out a family of 5 when it happened. He wouldn't hear of giving up his car keys, believe me. So I regularly begged my mom not to ride with him if she could avoid it.

We were lucky. Only one other vehicle was involved, and that driver didn't even have to go to the hospital. My dad went to a trauma unit and died 24 hours later. My mom had stayed home that day, thank goodness.

Ask yourself if you can imagine losing your dad this way. It was sudden, violent, traumatic, and we never got to say goodbye to him.

And we were lucky in other ways. His car spun across 3 lanes of traffic and landed within 6 feet of pedestrians. He could have hit several vehicles and killed or maimed other people, not just himself. Would your father want that to be his final legacy?
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Are you doing the right thing? Yes.
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Hi M
What an amazing guy your dad is! I think you have nothing to feel guilty about and you are doing the right things. You are acting as a responsible concerned daughter and citizen. You know your dad better than anyone in the world and you have seen changes in him (deterioration) than concern you. Can you contact the state licensing agency with your concerns about him driving? Getting evaluations with a neurologist is a good idea in my view. Of course, he wants to be left alone to go on as he has been doing. He obviously has been managing reasonably well. I think it is understandable that he is upset. Have you explained to him the changes you have seen in him that have prompted you to look into assisted living? Change is hard for most people and as we age many resist leaving familiar surroundings with fond memories attached, Would he be agreeable to some "in between" solution like having some one look in on him periodically and perhaps help him with a few things? This might put your mind at rest better. As long as he is not a danger to himself or others at home and still managing, he may not need much more than that for now. The driving is an other matter, in my opinion.
Good luck.
Joan
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