Should we help dad buy a car?

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Dad (my 80 year old FIL) was in a car accident that totaled his car. He was not found at fault for the accident. The other driver was ticketed.


Although the accident was not his fault, he is without a car right now and we think this is a good time to discuss his driving abilities. We have been concerned about his driving for a while now & slowly, for over a year we have been talking with him about some of our concerns.


Overall he has safe driving habits. No road rage, uses turn signals & understands rules of the road. But he is a very slow driver. He thinks everyone around him is going fast even when they are going the speed limit. His perception of what is going on around him seems to be off & his reaction time seems slow. Despite his overall safe habits this one area really frightens us because we are afraid that he may not react fast enough to changing circumstances on the road.


We understand that this is a difficult privelge for one to lose. We have tried to help prepare him with caring but firm conversations, but it is very hard to get him to acknowledge his decline & the reality of this situation & to begin looking for alternatives.


We don't think he will be open to relinquishing his keys. What if he decides he will buy another car despite our urging him not too? He doesn't have much money to work with. He is prone to go out & purchase a clunker.


My husband feels like that is also an unsafe alternative. He feels like if his dad is determined to keep driving it's his responsibility to help him find the safest car possible.


What do you think? Is that endangering & enabling him or providing a sense of safety he might not otherwise have if he bought a car on his own?


Thanks for your help!

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Thanks for your thoughts guys. I found it very helpful. We will some things into action & see what happens.
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I don't envy your situation. I fear something similar coming my way in the future. My dad is 79, but an excellent driver. I ride with him almost once a week and carefully observe his driving. I can't find anything wrong with it. No tickets, no accidents, no problems. And he doesn't have dementia. I encourage him to drive as little as possible. But, at this point, there is no real reason for me to prevent him driving, except that he's 79 years old.

Since you know that your FIL is struggling with slow speed, I would take steps to have him re-evaluated, but, if he insists, I'd help with the car selection, so he doesn't pick a poor selection.

I might also, try to delay and in the mean time, volunteer to pick him up and do things. If your husband and others can use this as a chance to pick him up for more lunches, dinners, movies, shopping, visiting, etc. If he sees that he doesn't need a car, maybe, he'll accept the transports from family.
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If your dad-in-law is still able to drive and you are looking for a good used vehicle, I would recommend a small or mid-size SUV.   The vehicle sits up higher so he could see what is going on around him.   The vehicle is easier for some senior to get in and out [my Dad found he preferred to ride in my Jeep then his own sedan].   The vehicles are better in snow.   But scrapping the snow/ice and off might be a challenge if Dad has shrunk over the years.   It's worth looking into.
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Look at www.keepingussafe.org for suggestions and see what your state law says about more frequent tests for older drivers. From what you write, you may want to make taking one a pre-requisite for any help buying a car. The slow reaction time alone might make this a good time to start relying on others, on private drive-a-senior programs and public transportation. In some areas, door-to-door transportation is provided for trips to the doctor and to senior centers.
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