My grandmother is driving an unsafe car but my grandfather refuses any change. Does anyone have experience with this?

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Many of us have elderly loved ones who can no longer drive and must be convinced that driving is unsafe for them. However, my situation is slightly different.

I am visiting my ninety year old grandparents, both of which have been a loving and supportive presence in my life for as long as I can remember. My grandmother is extremely sharp and active, maintaining a real estate license and selling properties after forty years in the business. My grandfather is retired after an extremely successful retail career, but has been doing poorly since 2014. (His physician has refused to treat him for chronic anemia, and his cardiologist had him on Warfarin for eighteen years. Both factors have taken a worrying toll. But that is another issue entirely). They have always had an aversion to important changes, more so in recent years.

One of these changes has us (other grandchildren, my own parents, and aunts/uncles) very worried. Although my grandmother has excellent vision and still drives safely, they have a very unsafe car. My grandfather flatly refuses to replace the 2003 Lincoln Town car, which leaks coolant and is dangerous to drive. My grandmother no longer feels safe in this vehicle and chooses to drive their other Cadillac instead. This bothers my very anxious grandfather, who insists that the Lincoln is "good as new" despite the numerous reports that it requires several thousand dollars of work to make safe.

I have been attempting to help the process of selling/replacing the car be as easy/simple as possible. Today I showed them a 2014 Buick that my Grandmother loved. After a brief discussion and a moment of panic from grandpa, they told me that they will "hang on" to the lincoln a bit longer. This has me so worried. At their age they would not survive any type of accident, and the car is so unsafe. I cannot trust my grandfather not to drive it. Taking the keys is out of the question. It would immediately trigger a panic attack. After losing sixty pounds to Anemia, his brain chemistry is totally changed - everything makes him extremely anxious.

I love them very much. I am so lucky to have them both in my life. I want so much to help them with this process but my Grandfather's refusal to change anything is exhausting. Have any of you had an experience like this?

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If your grandfather is having Panic attacks, you might do well to address that issue with a geriatric psychiatrist.
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Sometimes our elders will hang onto a vehicle until the wheels fall off.... depending on the elder's age and if they went through the Great Depression, that is how they think. Oops, I am doing the same thing, my Jeep is 1996 but it still feels show room new :)

I was so glad once my parents stopped driving.... BUT.... and I never thought of this, my Mom would only ride in their vehicle to go places. So that meant I had to drive a vehicle I truly disliked big time. Their car was built for someone who was 6 foot tall... I am just a tad over 5 foot. So, bconvers, you and the relatives may have that to look forward to :P

If there is coolant leaking out of the Lincoln, that tells me there is a hole in the radiator. Before long, who ever is driving that Lincoln will find themselves stuck on the side of the road because the vehicle needs a new radiator.
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Just a thought. Why not get the car fixed? Consider it a luxury for grandpa. Will the repairs cost more than the Buick? It doesn't have to make economic sense. Afterall you've mentioned how successful they have been. The important thing is that the car be safe. Try to help them do what they want to do.
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What's unsafe about the car? Leaking coolant won't do the car any good - at worst, it could wreck the engine beyond repair if they don't keep the levels topped up - but it doesn't make it unsafe to drive. It'll just blow a gasket excitingly and grind to a halt. And your grandfather should then feel very guilty for not repairing his faithful old workhorse.

If your grandparents won't listen to you, see if you can find an independent, totally disinterested mechanic or a friend who really does know a lot about cars and see if you can get him to work on them from a vehicle welfare point of view. Poor old car, worn out, unless they want to spend a lot on tlc it would be much kinder to put it to sleep, send it to that great oil bath in the sky...

Um. Do you go with your grandfather to medical appointments?
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I have no advice. But I can commiserate. My mom was exactly like your grandfather. Clung to her dilapidated, unsafe car to the bitter end. Mom had enough resources to pay cash for a newer used car, but nooooo.

In addition to being resistant to change (always), my mom gradually became UNABLE to manage change. And I mean gradually. I spent the last XX years of mom's life puzzling over why Mom was becoming so damm hard to talk to. Oy. 

In hindsight, I now know that mom's mental limitations were worse than I thought. (She fooled me with her flair for math, always knowing what day it is, and such.) Mom truly Could Not Have adapted to a different light switch, different levers for heat/AC, different dashboard layout and so on.

At 90, your grandfather might be experiencing some neuro/cognitive changes. And hiding it by being defensive. And shutting down any conversation that's not going his way.

And in the other corner, higher-functioning grandma smooths things out.

I'm not trying to bring you down. But keep an eye on their dynamic. This round-robin about Grandpa's sh*tty old car might be a symptom -- and not the problem.
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How sneaky are you prepared to be? Take the car into the shop for an oil change and then tell grandpa that the mechanic says it won't pass a safety check so he is removing the licence tags. Or you could ask to have it disabled in such a way that it will not run.
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