My mom (83) has undiagnosed dementia (refuses to see a geriatrician). She needs to stop driving. She cannot manage the car anymore as she doesn't drive it often enough. The battery is always dead. Yesterday she said she'd left her keys in the car. Impossible, as my husband pointed out. She would have turned the house upside down looking for them before going to the car.

I had a plan in place for her to stop driving. A wonderful childhood friend has retired and has plans to move back to our hometown. He would be perfect to be my mom's driver. We have known him for 45 years, and can trust him. Since COVID, he has had to put his plans of selling his home and moving on hold. The rest of his family lives in our hometown and he hasn't seen them since Thanksgiving 2019.

There is no public transportation. No taxis or Uber. You have a car, walk, or depend on someone for a ride. There is literally no one else my mom would accept to do this service for her. Getting her to accept this perfectly reasonable plan will be struggle enough. I live too far away to run her to the grocery store or hairdresser every time she has a whim.

What have the rest of you done when your LO can no longer drive, but alternatives are limited or non-existent?

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Thanks everyone for your helpful answers. There are some very good suggestions.

I'll clarify a couple of things.

The closest taxi would have to drive 30 miles to get her, if they even would do so. That combined with her inability to learn anything new, i.e. even calling a taxi, is beyond her. So not feasible in the least.

The Office of the Aging DOES offer rides for seniors, based on a sliding income scale. She certainly could take advantage of this. In fact, when my stepfather was alive, he volunteered to do this and often took clients to doctor appts., etc. My mom would NEVER be comfortable doing this.

She is still "with it" enough to know that a car with 33,000 miles on it doesn't need any extensive repairs. As long as my 93 year old uncle is alive, she knows she can call him and he will charge her dead battery. He would certainly not be on board with lying to his sister, even if it's in her best interests.

My mom would die in AL or a care home. She is a very private person and she would be miserable and would NOT adapt. Additionally these places do not allow pets, and if she were separated from her two cats she would quickly die of despair and loneliness. I just can't put her through that. They are all she has at this point.

My mom is extremely stubborn and independent. Some of the very logical suggestions given here MIGHT work if we can get her to take medication for her depression and anxiety. That is our first hurdle, then we can see about making some changes. Except for the car. That has to be dealt with sooner rather than later.

Peace to you all!!p-[[[qqqiiieeeeews - that last part was my cat walking across my keyboard! Gillie says hi everyone and thanks for your suggestions to my mom so she can help grandma!!

She has been checked for UTI. She has had them, and they have been treated. Her mind does not seem to be affected either way.
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Thankfully I did not have this issue with my parents. They accepted not driving graciously.

I agree with other posters who say to remove her car and say that it needs extensive repairs.

Council on Aging in our area provides rides for seniors. Check into senior resources in your area.
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Hire a caregiver for X hours per day or week. Or a companion if she doesn't need help. This person must have a driver's license with no infractions, and be willing to chauffeur your mother around during her shift. Your mother will schedule her outings during these times and that's it. This is also a great segue into getting her acclimated to the fact that she needs assistance, now and in the future.

It's either this choice or she has no rides anywhere. She realistically cannot expect to be driven around on a whim by anyone at any time. Old age and illness isn't a joyride for anyone, and compromises must be made, period.

Good luck!
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I can understand there being no taxis in the community where your mother lives, but not that there would be no taxis available unless this is a very rural area.. My mother lived in a suburb of Cincinnati which had no taxis, but a Cincinnati taxi company would come there to take people places and bring them back. I've similarly needed taxis when I've visited out of town friends where there was no local taxi company, but I could still get a cab. It of course costs more to take a cab this way, but probably less than all she's now spending for auto insurance, car repairs, etc. It may be worth double-checking on taxi availability.
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Geaton777 Jan 2021
The OP has indicated her mom has memory issues and dementia symptoms, therefore having her take a taxi or Uber or bus by herself is dangerous and also unethical. In my area, the county's mobility bus service will not accept solo riders who have any cognitive issues. They must be accompanied by a competent travel companion.
If the battery is always dead then leave it that way. Maybe even take it out. Next time its dead, tell her u need to take it to the shop and don't bring the car back. Keep bringing up excuses why they r still working on it.

The driver sounds wonderful but like you, she cannot expect this person to be at her beck and call. He does have a life of his own. Boundries will need to be set. A certain day of the week for groceries and errands. Appts made when convenient to him. No expecting him to jump because she needs butter from the store. And he should be paid for his time and for gas.

You don't have an Office of Aging in her County that supplies busses for Seniors?
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I totally get your dilemma. I've had to do it with 4 elders in my and my husband's families. My 93-yr old uncle drove through a red light and was t-boned by another car, killing his own wife and dog and injuring the other victims. So, this is a serious problem and I urge you to solve it.

Remove her car physically. Then tell her a "therapeutic fib" that it is in the shop for serious and expensive repairs. Remove her keys as well or any other reminders of the car. Put the care where she won't see it, nor will any of her family or neighbors or friends spot it to tell her where it is. Then contact her state's DMV online and make your case why she should be called in for a retest. Then make sure no one helps her make an appointment. You can report her anonymously.

Then you will need to replace the need for her to drive. Have groceries delivered to her door. Covid does make things trickier. When things go back to "normal" I recommend you do not rely on this single friend to be her taxi except on rare occasion or you will burn out his good will. You will need to ask a variety of people and make sure to thank them with gifts. I gave my LOs drivers gift cards to restaurants and asked them to take my LO out to lunch/dinner after the errand. So they both enjoyed a meal out and each other's company.

You seem convinced that your mom has dementia, or at the very least, memory loss. Has she ever been checked for a UTI? It can mimic dementia behavior but have no other symptoms. It is a very common infection in elderly women but is easily treated with antibiotics. Her memory and behavior would improve.

Are you her durable PoA? If so, what is the plan to protect her once it is discovered that she cannot perform most of her ADLs? The car is the first step but maybe now is the time to transition her into a good AL or MC close to you? She won't like any of the changes but what are the options? She will only get worse. FYI my MIL is 85 and in LTC. She had covid in May and survived. There is another round in her facility but now they are so much smarter on how to deal with it -- they've had no deaths. If your mom is basically healthy and immune compromised, have respiratory issues like COPD or asthma, high blood pressure or obesity, then you have much less to worry about if she does get covid. Hopefully she will be able to get a vaccine soon. Maybe that is the therapeutic fib she is told to get her in to any doctor and then pass the staff a note requesting a cognitive exam. They will be happy to accommodate this.

At some point if you are the only person to manage her future care, there is no real reason to wait. You will need to take time off of a longer visit as you sort through what needs to happen and when. Putting it off may lead to a health crisis for her and then decisions will need to be made in crisis mode, rather than when things are calm and you have more options. The train wreck IS coming, and you see it coming. The question is: do you want to work on avoiding it now or allowing it to plow through her life and yours (or whomever will be managing her well being)? This is how it went in my family and I chose to head off the wreck and so glad I did. I wish you much wisdom as you move forward.
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