My FIL's drivers license was revoked due to serious health issues, yet he continues to drive. He'll freak out if we take away his car keys. Any suggestions? -

My FIL's drivers license was revoked due to serious health issues, yet he continues to drive. He'll freak out if we take away his car keys. Any suggestions?


My FIL is a 90 year old suffering from far-advanced diabetes. He cannot feel his lower legs, has lost his toenails and has small sores most of the time as he fails to listen to the doctors instructions. His eyesight was so poor that he failed the drivers vision test. His blood sugar is often out of control. He is taking many medications. He drives over the speed limit. He has driven in a ditch several times, damaging his car once. He was sent notification that his drivers license was revoked by the local DOT about 8 months ago. His eldest son sent the necessary paperwork to the DOT to begin the driving testing process. The local hospital also sent in paperwork declaring he should no longer drive. His doctors have also sent in paperwork showing he is no longer physically safe to drive. Apparently, his car insurer has not yet been notified as his insurance was renewed and a new 2018 auto registration sticker was sent to him. He continues to drive. His daughter (she lives 40 minutes away) is available to drive him with only an overnight's notice. She already takes him to Doctors appts and shopping. She cooks for him and cleans his home. We all know that one reason he demands driving himself is that he purchases all kinds of sweets, which no one else will buy for him. He refuses to live with his retired, eldest son, my husband and me, who have an eldercare suite for him. We all want him to retain his dignity, yet we all feel he is a danger to himself and others while driving. No one has the courage to take away his keys as we all know he will become very angry, possibly causing more acute health and psychological issues. He has always been fiercely independent, but this has become a test of his will. Any suggestions?



Um. Your FIL is a danger to himself and others, but more to the point he is breaking the law. And he is driving uninsured. Can the family afford to risk the hundreds to thousands to millions of dollars in potential lawsuits? Him being angry vs explaining to a family why he drove into their child... which takes more courage, do you think?

For today, take the wheels off his car and put it on axle stands. Deny all knowledge of how that happened. Run like the wind.

Ask his local police to call and "have a word."

If in all seriousness he is doing this because he wants some sweets, get him some sweets for Chrissakes. The time has long passed when you can protect him from the consequences of his poor dietary decisions.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to Countrymouse

I’ll add to the other great answers above. Mother refused to relinquish her car keys after a 2 week jury trial following the big crash she caused. I drove her to the courthouse and sat with her each day. She agreed not to drive at her Dr appointment, but changed her mind or forgot when we got home. I finally got up the courage to steal the keys away from her.
Yes, it was a big drama scene and very unpleasant. Thank god I did it before someone got killed.
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Reply to yogagirl

Get this guy off the road before he kills innocent people. I went through this with my dad. I got no help from doctors or police.

There are 2 ways to do this. A family intervention, take the keys then the car. That way he’ll hate everyone equally. Or.....

Disable the car. Pop the hood, open the fuse/relay box and pull out the starter relay. It will be labeled on the fuse box lid. When FIL is asleep stick the relay back in and remove the car.

Don’t let him be the old guy on the six o’clock news that drives through the store window.
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Reply to Windyridge

Hello there,
I am the one whose father drove INTO the bank. By the grace of God, the pregnant woman whose office he drove into was at a doctor appt. It took us another 5 years and multiple interactions with cops and optometrists to get him to stop driving. The police did what they could, but in his stage of dementia, it only made him go onto a stage of threatening cops.

This is the hardest thing you will ever do, even harder than if you have to place them into care. But please do it. Great advice above. How can he stop if he cannot feel his feet? He will end up killing someone. This Christmas, an elderly man here drove the wrong way down the interstate and killed a young couple. He walked away.

Snitch that car and put it into a storage unit. Have a family intervention. This really frightens me. I am so over the pride thing. Human life (potential victims) is too valuable.
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Reply to Mincemeat

You can't "talk sense" to someone with dementia.

He needs to be in a care center if he's not rational and the daughter can't stand up to his insistence on driving illegally and dangerously. At this point he is like a deranged person with a gun.

I'm sorry if that sounds unkind. I think it's the truth.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn

Original poster - the answers seem unkind because there is urgency. Your FIL is a current danger and the driving needs to stop now. My dad told my stepmom he could drive after his stroke - she took his keys away and endured is anger - over and over and over. She didn't admit taking them - she had years of my dad's raging - let him think they were lost. Unknown to her- he had a second pair. One day while she was at work - he drove into town to buy something - lost control and ran through the fence and over outdoor toys at a home based day care that was on a street corner. No one was outside at the time - they were having lunch - but all of us shook to think about what would have happened if the kids were outside. The police arrested him for driving without a license and that experience finally scared him enough.

Bottom line - your FIL is not thinking straight - cannot be reasoned with. Is a danger to himself and others. He doesn't sound like you can deal with his car with out him raging - there is not a "nice" way to do this. He is going to be p-oed. If your SIL can't stand up to him - then the sons need to and who cares if he flips out.

I honestly do not see the logic of hoping that he won't kill anyone in the mean time until someone can deal with him in a few months.
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Reply to Kimber166

Sometimes there are tough decisions to be made and sometimes they cause our LOs to get mad. When you refused to let your toddler run in the street or jump in a pool when they can't swim...they may be angry, throw a fit, hit and kick...but we still would not let them do it. Instead we use a fence, lock, and many other ways to protect them. We also are more watchful in dangerous situations.

I see this in much the same way. If he will not willingly give up driving (which is dangerous) then it is the caregivers (plural) responsible to make it happen. Using safety measures...disable the car, take the keys, lock the garage...and be more watchful...are absolutely necessary. Keeping our LOs safe is the highest form of respect.

I do feel compassion for your FIL. Find ways to meet his needs...if that is sweets...look for healthy diabetic alternatives. Sorry, if you think everyone was being unkind...I just think this is so scary they want you to know how serious it is. Waiting until May doesn't seem advisable.
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Reply to Grammyteacher

He'll freak out.

He might kill someone or himself.

Are you really having trouble deciding between those two?
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Reply to jeannegibbs


Which frightens you more?

Him freaking out?


Someone dies because of his driving or is terribly injured followed by a lawsuit?
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Reply to cmagnum

Some answers seem unkind because the situation is grossly unkind. What did your FIL ever do to deserve out-of-control blood sugars? Who decided that he was deserving of the devastating disease of dementia? Sometimes (often) life is unkind, and we have to cope with it anyway.

According to my husband, the absolutely worst thing about his 10 year journey with dementia was having his license revoked. This happened within the first year. He mourned his car for at least a full year. He finally got past that and spent the rest of his life mostly content.

We are not giving you unkind answers because we don't know how extremely hard this is for the caregiver. We have been the caregiver. And not all of us are assertive by nature. This is extremely hard on SIL. I am truly sorry about that. It is hard on your husband and his brother. My heart goes out to them, too. But public safety trumps all of that.

The possible consequences here are too severe to worry about being "kind."
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Reply to jeannegibbs

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