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Car is there for caregivers. Took the car and she threatened suicide, yelling, crying. She had a mini stroke and broke her hip a year ago. Also, medium dementia. She has three daughters who also drive and care for her. She doesn't want to ride in the caregiver's car because it is not in good condition. We told her we would leave the car if she promised not to drive. We put a tracking device on the car in case she drove and got lost. We've begged, pleaded, written heartfelt letters, to no avail. Her doctor has talked to her multiple times. She is on anti-depressants and medication for dementia. Mom claims she does not want to live if she can't drive. We pointed out how much she has to live for and how fortunate she is that she is able to stay in her home with her dog. She says she doesn't care. We told her she could injure someone if she has spasms in her legs and she says she doesn't care. I know she doesn't mean this, but she acts like a child when we talk to her. We know the car needs to be removed, but we are trying to get her to accept things so it is a win-win situation. Don't know how to deal with the suicide talk, yelling and crying. She also drinks alcohol at night, against doctor's and our requests. She is capable of living "alone" with help, IF she follows doctors orders. Any suggestions would be most appreciated. We've told her if she falls again, she will not be able to stay in her own home. Once again, her response is she will "take a bottle of pills" before she goes to assisted living.



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Its very sad because the car is a symbol of freedom and independence to them. The truth is, they don't really know they are unsafe so you have to protect them and others from a deadly accident. You will need to hide the keys or lock them in a safe box that only the caregivers have the key for.

When we moved Mom to IL, she was 92 and driving dangerously. We sold her car so she had no choice. She complained about it for the next five years, blaming the family and claiming she could drive perfectly well. She drove the residents crazy too. They told us she constantly talked about "her car" until they avoided her. Its rare that a senior realizes they shouldn't drive and gives it up voluntarily, so family has to bear the guilt of doing it for them.
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Lacer, if she has moderate dementia no amount of asking, begging or reasoning is going to work. To her she is fine but we all know she should not be on the road.

There's no easy way to do this. The car has to go. You can take the keys or disable the car or just drive it away some night.

And don't be afraid to fib. Depending on the level if her dementia a story that the car is in the shop or you borrowed it may cool her jets a little.
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There is always a wheel chock lock. Put on wheel car not going anywhere until unlocked.
Or a club on steeringwheel in locked position.
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The DMV can be another resource, or at least it is in Alaska. I contacted the DMV before moving my mother-in-law up from Washington. A family member or concerned citizen can report/flag a driver for which they are concerned. The DMV can require medical certification, vision test, written test and a driving test. My mother-in-law had no possibility of passing these tests; and gave up on her demands to drive.
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In Minnesota, it was the doctors who alerted the DMV that my friends needed to be tested for their driving abilities and the DMV sent a letter that required the doctor's approval before they could be tested. The doctor wouldn't give it, of course, and so they weren't allowed to do the behind-the-wheel test unless the tester was assured it was safe to do so. No doctor's o.k.= no test. For the husband, the letter from the doctor said he needed further evaluation and the DMV said they didn't do evaluations. I needed to take him to Courage Center where they do such things. It was a 3 hour test with both at the computer and an hour behind the wheel. The husband could not maintain his concentration for the computer testing and didn't do so well behind the wheel either, so the evaluation was he should no longer drive. Without that evaluation giving the o.k. for the DMV testing, the license revocation was automatic. Then the trick was to get them to give up the keys--see above account for that.
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Hey Ashlynne - I had just the opposite experience. At one attempt the tester refused to even get in the car with my mother based on her lack of ability to follow the basic instructions before they even leave the parking lot - when they are asking you to demonstrate working turn signals etc. The part that was a drag was me having to get up eight times at 5:00 am. Mom insisted on going first thing in the morning, thinking this was her best time of alertness. My son was still in school so to get him up and showered, then myself, then driving over to get my mom - yep, 5 am. I'm not a morning person! But in the long run it was worth it. Moms doctor and the DMV were the bad guys and I was off the hook - one less thing she could blame me for.
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I used to take my late mother for her tests and was horrified by the mental and physical condition of the test participants, some barely able to stand. There was no written test or road test ... would you get in a car with them? ... and her licence was renewed every time.

One day, with me in the car, she blew through a red light then turned into our street on the wrong side of the road. Scared her so badly she agreed o get rid of the car.
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See if you can go a similar route as I did with my mother. Get her licence suspended but tell her if she can pass the written exam and the behind the wheel test she can legally get her licence back - and she would have proven that she is in fact legal to drive. My mother passed the written in her fourth attempt but finally gave up after she failed her fourth behind the wheel test.
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Johnny J, that is a great idea. Of course, she would know I set the "intervention" up, but at least, I would not be the only bad guy. She has people who drive her now. She is just stubborn and doesn't understand her limitations at this point. She thinks she is just fine with a hard time remembering words every now and then. She says, "lots of people who can't remember words drive." Thanks for your input.
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When my friends who had had their licenses revoked continued to drive, I phoned Adult Protective Services for advice. They sent someone to evaluate them and I got there first to explain that a lady was coming because someone who was worried about them had phoned and she had to come to see how they were as it was her job.

The husband sounded rational for the first 5 minutes and then began to repeat himself. APS asked how they managed their shopping, etc. and the husband said they drove. When he was asked if he understood their licenses were revoked, he acted surprised. Later he was asked what he thought they should do with the car if neither could drive and he said: "sell it and get some money out of it." At that point I was able to get the keys and move the car to another friend's garage while we got it ready to sell. At that point, I took over taking them shopping and to their different appointments. I was also their POA for health care and finances, so by doing this, I could monitor how things were going. They were able to live on their own for another 8 months or so before the wife's dementia became so bad she needed 24 hour care. I found a nice, one bedroom memory care apartment in an AL so they could be together, which was extremely important to both of them. By involving APS, it removed me from being the "bad guy" about the keys.

Hope this helps in dealing with the manipulation going on here.
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Pamstegma - so true. During one of my moms behind the wheel tests she actual drove up onto the sideway - an automatic fail, by the way! My mom thought it was completely unfair and so not her fault, because the instructor had her drive down a street that was partially shaded by trees!
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Lacer1, we borrowed mom's car and never brought it back. They just don't know how dangerous they are.
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Thank you all for your input. We realize we are being manipulated, but that doesn't make it any easier. She says she can't do what she wants, so we point out that she is doing everything she use to do, just not driving herself. We've also pointed out all the the legal ramifications. We are going to take the car and it will be painful, but not as painful as hurting someone. It does help me to know that her behavior is not unique. Thank you all again.
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To an elder the car still means there is some freedom left in their life. Of course they will act like a 16 year old who was grounded for driving after dark, all the threats, all the "I will kill myself" noises, etc. They want their wheels no matter what.

My Dad didn't go quite that far, but it was frustrating any time I couldn't drive him or Mom someplace, he would threaten to drive himself.... that was a very hot button for me. I would explode. Numerous times I told him that if he was in a serious accident where someone was really hurt, then he and Mom would be sued and everything they worked so hard for the past 70 some years would be gone. Then what? How would he and Mom live? Was going to the grocery store for a sale on can peaches worth that risk??? That usually settled him down.

Thankfully Dad's old Oldsmobile wouldn't hold a charge [something electrical in the car was draining the battery], so Dad would need to bring out the portable charger and set it up.... after a few hours of charging the car, Dad would forget why he wanted to drive :)
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Lacer1, I agree with Mincemeat.
My mom caused an injury accident resulting in a week long jury trial.
A year of anxious legal wrangling before the trial was stressful on all of us.
Selling her beloved car was a battle worth fighting and she doesn't even remember
the whole ordeal.
One less thing to worry about.
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How does she get the keys?
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We went through this experience with my husband last August. We realized we had to do something drastic before he got in the car and had a SERIOUS accident. So we took all his car keys away (at night while he was asleep) The next day he was told the keys had been put away etc. He pitched a fit of some magnitude - later in the day it got so bad we called 911 and they took him to the crisis management unit of our hospital. Enough said PLEASE PLEASE DO NOT ALLOW HER TO DRIVE ANYMORE!!!
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I have really been down this "I have to drive" journey. About the dementia....when they say "I don't care if I hurt someone"....they really mean it....they really do not care. Their brain is broken and they show no responsibility or empathy towards others. I realize this is a hard pill to swallow.

The other hard realization about dementia is the "sanity swings" they can be perfectly logical one minute and just plain stupid the next minute. The suicide threats? They are done because they push your buttons and put your entire family into turmoil......lots of attention.....mission accomplished.

I realize what I just said sounds harsh. Get rid of the car and pay the caregivers mileage.
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Lacer1 - you are describing exactly how my mom reacted to loosing her licence and car. I supported her in numerous attempts to re-test and get her licence back - which never happened. Knowing she had no licence or insurance mom still sneaked the car out. The only choice was to remove the car. If mom wanted to go out she had to accept going in someone else's car. Don't like the car? Too bad, stay home then. I honestly think the only thing that prevented her from literally sneaking out and buying a new car and hiding it, was the talk I gave her. I carefully explained the consequences of getting in an accident without insurance and a licence. Mom was taking pain killers - so, arrest, possible jail time, court fees and lawyer fees. If mom hurt or killed anyone it meant all the previous mentioned plus civil suits which could cost her every dime she had. To this day mom insists she can drive - even though she can't get out of her recliner by herself. As for the drama and the suicide threats - I know this sounds harsh but this is how I look at it - yes, I would feel badly but she chose that over being able to make a rational decision. A decision dementia may make problematic but in this case, when her safety and the safety of others are at stake - what is YOUR choice? To give in because of that threat? I would feel a hell of a lot worse if I knowingly had let her drive and she killed some poor innocent bystander(s) who had the misfortune to be in her path. Do what you can to minimize any realistic suicide attempt - lock up medications, get her to a psyh evaluation etc - but for Gods sake, take the car away!
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I'd have her admitted to a psychiatric facility so they can figure out a better medication regimen.
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