Mom sneaks the car out and is not allowed to drive. Advice?

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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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