Parents have had increasing dementia for past 15 years (mom) and past year (dad). They both drive. Are we liable? - AgingCare.com

Parents have had increasing dementia for past 15 years (mom) and past year (dad). They both drive. Are we liable?

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Two months ago Dad fell and broke 5 ribs while walking the 96lb dog, The next day, we went to check on them (they still live at home without any care givers). We discovered he had forgotten or ignored the doctor's instructions about the dog and had taken the dog outside to the dog run (ice on steps). They had no dog food and the water bowl was frozen. We didn't want the dog, but took the dog so that he would not "forget" and try to walk the dog with 5 broken ribs. We went with him a month later to the doctor to see if his ribs were healed enough so that we could give them back their dog. We learned that he had decided not to refill any medication for the past year, including his memory medication and his diabetes medication. We went into action at that point to begin the process of implementing the power of attorney and to move them to a place where they can be cared for. This past month has been hell. We are driving his medicine to him daily because we don't trust that he will remember to take his medication if we don't personally take it there and watch him take it. His blood sugar levels are coming down slowly. Mom has more advanced dementia with all the ugly issues that go with it. We are verbally assaulted about taking their dog, about throwing out their ice cream, about asking them not to drive. We don't know how to reason with them. We are learning that all their neighbors refer to her as the crazy lady who yells at them if anyone parks in front of her house.
How do we take away their car keys? As power of attorney, are we liable if they have a car wreck? As of yesterday, they were approved to move into Independent Care, but this is going to take at least a week and that's if they are cooperative, which they are not.
Help we are at our wits end.

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The topic of driving has been ongoing since last August. Daddy owns three parcels of land near his house. The land is leased for agricultural purposes. He doesn't own any livestock, but likes to check on the renters' activities. He can access the parcels by one-lane county roads and/or by the two-lane farm-to-market (speed limit 65; he likes 25 mph). First, we discussed his driving. He broke his promise to stay off of the main roads countless times. Second, I took the license plates off his truck and reported it to the sheriff's office. Third, I submitted a request to the DMV to test him and asked them to withhold my name. He failed! Although he had been studying the handbook (which I gave him), he missed 17 out of 30 questions. Now, his license is suspended. Fourth, I called my insurance agent and asked your very question. The agent said to talk with an attorney, but if he doesn't have a valid driver's license, the insurance company will not cover a claim if he's driving. So, I reported the info to his insurance company and currently awaiting a notice from them. Fifth, we disabled the truck by removing the fuse to the fuel injector. Now, he thinks his 2010 fully-loaded truck is a piece of junk. He's willing to sell it for 40% less than blue book value. If it helps, on Thanksgiving he was going to have me arrested for stealing his license plates, but he couldn't work the automated phone system at the sheriff's office. So, I had to call the sheriff to come arrest me. Fortunately, a deputy we already knew quickly understood and came to our aid; however, I was told that if Daddy insisted, I would have been arrested. I wish you well.
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My mother in law started getting lost. We spoke to the doctor who ordered a driving test for her.( Pennsylvania). She failed the test. She was required to turn over her license. After the state took away her license she continued to drive anyway and said no one was going to stop her. We had to put a "locked club" on her car. As POA, if you know they can't drive, you are liable. You cannot reason with someone with dementia. The behaviour you see is worsening dementia. Your parents need a neuro/psycology to stage their dementia. My mother in law has had 3. It will assist you in decision making and relieve some anguish you feel when you see they are worse than you knew. All of this done in love, is in their best interest.
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There are many reasons your parents should not drive, but I understand your frustration with the situation. I was in your situation at one time. One option is not to take the keys, but take the car. If you have access to the car with another set of keys, then drive it and tell them a light came on and you dropped it off to get fixed. Reasoning with them will not work. If they were driving with expired tags and license, then it really isn't going to matter what the DMV tells them anyway. There are many issues here. Depending on the state, you may also be responsible for their well being, meaning that if they really injure themselves, like falling again and you don't get help for them, then social workers may be called in. It sounds like you are doing the right thing in putting them in a facility that can handle them. Otherwise, you would need 24 hour in-home care and that can get expensive. When Dementia or Alzheimer's is involved, then there is always the chance that your parent could wander. You did a good thing by taking the dog. I am sure that you are under a lot of emotional stress. I am a care coach and would be happy to talk with you at no cost or obligation.
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Desert192 - I agree that in-home-care more closely aligns to parents wants and I pushed hard for this. But I was overruled b/c no one person can take on mom when she gets into one of her neurotic tirades. Also, Dad is a people person, so once we get him there, he will love getting to interact with lots of people.

Lucycat - I agree. But this place approved them to start at Independent care and will ensure both of them take their medication twice a day. They have a nurse 24/7 and they will not have to move or downsize as their health/circumstances decline.
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my sisters MIL got pretty nutty and would walk up and down indy streets with a shotgun offering to cleanse the opposition to the caucasion race. crazy or not i cant help but find that hilarious..
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You are in a hard place because they are going to be totally uncooperative to move and resistant (if not total refusal) to in home caregiving assistance. Your only other option is to document all your observations and concerns for them to continue to care for themselves and call in APS.

APS will evaluate the circumstances and consult with physicians and coordinate services needed. Prepare yourself that they may evaluate as "not ideal, but not life threatening" and say they will revisit in 3 months or whatever. Then you have to decide not to enable your parents by rescuing them with bill paying, getting groceries, managing meds, etc....hard to do but it is for their own good so they don't hurt themselves or burn the house down. APS can consult with drs as well to have them fully evaluated.

If parents refuse services or dismiss services, then all you can do is report back to case worker.

I once read, parents are entitled to make decisions, even bad ones....hard for us children to watch and accept.

As far as the car, fill out the form and report to DMV. List the dr on the form. I think it should be mandatory for all seniors to have a drs note and take a driving test every year to renew their liscence after 75. If the car is not renewed then report to police and have it impounded and explain your concern. Request that they not allow dad to take back car without new liscense and drivers test.
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You say that you will move them into independent living. I don't think that is the best place. I would say you need to at least put them in assisted living. There are nurses and staff to keep up with their medications and other personal needs. I had to take the keys from my dad this past year. I took them when he wasn't looking and don't regret it. He was furious for awhile, but I (and his doctor) kept telling him he could no longer drive. My brother and I moved the car from his house. I know it's heartbreaking and you have feelings of guilt. But how will you feel if he causes harm to someone else or himself. What if it were a child? Please do what you need to do to keep everyone safe and good luck.
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If you/they can afford in home caregiver it probably would be best solution.
Agree with comment that they would listen to Dr. if he told them - no more driving, must have in home services, etc. - maybe he would even write "prescription" for these. Their generation seems to listen to "authority" figures.
Got my Mom to quit driving by emphasizing "what if you hurt someone else - what if you kill a child, etc." Since she is mentally fine, it made her think enough to give up driving . She realized her dizzy spells could happen in car and what outcome could be.
If they refuse about all you can do is get Dr. to substantiate their mental problems and get guardianship from court. If you are willing to go to this level.
As above - they don't know what they are doing. Someone needs to be the responsible adult and they don't seem capable.
Ditto about the dog - unless these is an in home caregiver - they can't be trusted to take care of it.
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Police will impound a vehicle without registration. I suppose it is parked in a garage or out of site, else it would have been impounded, it will cost you a lot if they tow and imoound If you can get to the car, but not the keys, disconnect the battery, or buy a boot for $159. A boot is the gadget cops put on tires in urban areas for people with unpaid parking tickets....boots are on the internet, people use them to lock wheels on generators and construction equipment. If you cannot get I the house, how will you be able to get them to move to independent living? That is the bigger problem.
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I would encourage you to consider in home health care. It cost less then moving your parents and they also will receive better care. Most home health companies have medication management programs. Its been proven to improve the quality of life for most seniors when they are able to age in place. Be sure to find an agency that is experienced in Memory Care. I have worked with several families who had parents that insisted on driving. We were able to place a caregiver in the home that drove and would drive parents to stores, appointments and etc.
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