What is the best and kindest way to take her car away? It’s her freedom and she’s super stubborn. Hide it, hide the keys, try to talk her into it (hasn’t worked yet)? We live out of town but have people checking in on her and giving her rides already. She can’t use a cell phone or anything with navigation.

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Break the car, but leave it in the driveway. Take something off so it won't start. Then put a BIG note under the hood that says car owner has dementia and gets lost driving. DO NOT repair this car. Put your name and phone number on the note as well as a couple more names/numbers so repairman can call to confirm situation. Whoever tries to fix it can report back to her that it needs a part that has to be ordered - it is taking a while to get parts right now.

If you remove car from house, it just creates more issues and confusion. What if she reports it stolen to police? What if she catches a ride to a dealer and buys a new car? Too much drama with that idea. Hiding the keys does the same thing. Imagine that you realize you have some brain issues and you think that YOU lost your own car keys - it would drive you insane. Don't put her through that. Disable the car so it's broke. It's outside in a familiar place and for now she will think she can drive again when it's fixed - no one took away her independence that she still remembers.

Also get an immediate ongoing plan for taking her somewhere when she wants to go. So that she is used to alternative transportation. You said you have people doing that, but you need to make sure this will be done ongoing.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to my2cents
Kerryb Sep 2, 2020
Wow what a great idea this is. I will let a few of my friends in on this.
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This may depend on state law. We just took my mother's keys and made arrangements to drive her everywhere. Her car was left in garage but we did have both sets of keys. She did not say too much but when we took her to the doctor, she told him to tell us she could drive, that she was not crazy! Of course no one said she was crazy but she did have dementia. Doctor told her it was a matter of safety. I told her in front of him, that if she only promised to kill herself with the car, I would give back the keys but that I was afraid she would kill a young woman with 2 kids in the car. I did not give back the keys. In Illiois, that is not actually legal, a doctor would have to state in writing she is not able to drive. MD would have done it; they have a legal obligation to notify DMV but in our case, it did not come to that. I did not care that it was not legal; I figured I would ask the judge for his home address so my mother could be sure to drive down his street if she got her keys back. In order to pass her annual driving test, she used to go to DMV and follow the driving testers with other people in the car so she could drive the route! My brother wanted to allow her to keep driving because he did not want her to be angry so I told him that if she caused an accident and someone was hurt or died, she would be sued and have no money left. True? No idea but he believed me.

So, how do you do it? You just do it. You take the keys and if you feel you need to, disable the car and move it to be "repaired. Too bad if they yell. You are not a 6 year old facing an angry parent because you drew on the living room wall. We have a responsibility to keep them from killing people with their cars. So if family doctor will help, that is great. But if not, you need to take action. Think about it. If you get lost, you get distracted while driving trying to figure out where you are. Being lost for 6 hours has to be incredibly stressful and is certainly a sign something is wrong. Just not safe for her to be driving. Driving is not a right, it is a privilege. I don't know why they don't use driving simulators to test the elderly. Maybe it is discriminatory but there should be a way; because in people in their 80's and 90's, you need to test more than muscle memory.

My FIL drove when he should not have. I had a private driving evaluation him and he passed because the muscle memory part of his brain enabled him to drive but he got lost in areas he knew well and I knew his brain would not process anything unexpected fast enough. With that driving eval, I could not get my husband and his siblings on board with taking the keys. Finally he failed eye test due to cataracts he never mentioned he had. Once he stopped driving, he told me that I was right and that when he thought back to some of the things he had done while driving, he knew he should not have been driving. But was 93 at the time.
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Reply to dogparkmomma
Robin1234 Sep 5, 2020
I like your “you are not a 6 year old” statement.
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Even after my Aunt failed the vision test at the DMV and was only issued a state ID(they need a valid ID to do banking etc..), she couldn't remember that she had NO license !
Disabled her car!
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to xrayjodib

Sometimes SAFETY has to supersede KINDNESS. If she has dementia and was “lost” her sad situation will not be better (or worse) because she is no longer permitted to drive.

Most people in this situation are super stubborn and will tantrum, cry, and act out when the subject is approached, but once HER safety has been compromised by her inability to drive safely, the new risk of her inadvertently injuring someone else while driving makes action totally imperative.

There is not really an easy way to pull this off, and she will most likely attempt to drive if she has access to the car. In our most recent situation, my LO did stop driving because of bad weather conditions for a couple months before she entered MC.

As long as your mother is still caring for her needs and socially active, she may relax a little when she realizes that she is amply provided with rides. To completely remove the risk of her driving, a LONG TERM repair, or repainting the car, could help you get the car away from her.

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Reply to AnnReid

Agreed on having the doctor inform her. Elders really do tend to take this news better from a doctor than their adult children. Because adult children are, in their eyes, still children! :)

I should add it won't be enough to take keys away. If she sees her car there she'll want to drive it. Also, you'd be amazed at the lengths someone with dementia or sight issues will go to to get back in the driver's seat. I've read stories here where elders sweet-talked their way into their neighbor helping them start the car.

Even more scary is an incident in my city where a man with Alzheimer's drove the wrong way on the interstate at night, hit a car head-on and killed the family of four inside. His family had taken the ignition case out of his car, thinking that would be enough. The man was able to re-install it in a moment of clarity and went driving.
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Reply to LoopyLoo

If she got lost for 6 hours it is imperative that you take the keys/car even if she is mad at you. My friends grandparents both had mild-moderate dementia. They still drove to the grocery store and their children’s houses, otherwise asked for rides. One day on tgeir way home from their daughters house they never called to say they were home. Long story short they were found 3 days later several hours away in another state dead of exposure. They’d lost their way and didn’t know what to do. It was horrible!
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to Jennifercrane

Others suggest having the doctor contact DMV. This more often than not doesn't really work for several reasons:

1) Many docs don't want to get in the middle of this
2) Some who've had the license revoked continued to drive!
3) If the car remains where it is seen, the desire remains

My YB and I went to mom's place and he did all the talking. He took the key. I merely stood behind him. On the way out, I suggested disabling the car as I was sure she had another key. This often works for those not mechanically inclined, but some can tinker with cars and might figure out the battery is disconnected. Sure enough, the next day I, not YB, gets the nasty call about taking her key! Day 2 came the second nasty call, telling me to get there and fix it! So she did have another key, and managed to find it. Since it was "broken", we managed to take it away to get it "fixed." It took a while, but eventually the worst thing she did was "give up her wheels", like it was HER idea, and sometime later stopped asking/talking about it.

In your case, I doubt your mother would know what to do. If she tries to start it and then calls you, have it towed (or moved when she isn't looking to save tow fee!) somewhere that she won't see it. Then comes the repeated story that they are still working on it, having trouble getting parts, etc. Don't offer any info, just say these if she asks about it. At some point she is likely to forget.

Meanwhile, have her get a thorough checkup. Include test for UTI and cognitive decline. Rule out non-dementia causes for memory lapses. If she is really in the early stage, hopefully you have all the legal docs you need already done, such as POAs, will, etc. If not, an EC atty can determine if she is still capable of signing these (we had to make updates, and he talked with her alone before proceeding.) To prevent buying another car, as someone suggested might happen, you would want to ensure she has limited or no access to funds or credit cards. If you already have POA and get confirmation from the doc, start preparing for the inevitable.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to disgustedtoo

Dear "Daofdementia,"

You may want to click on the Aging Care "forum" topic at the upper right hand corner on the teal bar. Go to page 4 and there is a question that was asked on 8/16/20 "How do we deal with impact of taking away mom's car keys?" There are 71 answers and maybe you'll find something that will help you too!
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to NobodyGetsIt

This is a tough issue!
IMOP, if your Mom was lost for over 6 hours, it maybe more than just "mild dementia ".
Make sure you have a diagnosis from a Geriatrician or a Neurologist.
My Aunts PCP diagnosed her with mild cognitive impairment. After a much more detailed examination by a Geriatrician, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
When I realized she shouldn't be driving, I disconnected the battery cables to her car.
She simply thought the car needed repairs.
Although I had to repeat the "broken down " car story many times, because her mental status, she couldn't piece together what to do about it and gave up.
It was a relief knowing that she wasn't on the road!!
God bless!!
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to xrayjodib

My wife's driving had become quiet dangerous and when my then 8 Y/O son call me off to the side after his last ride with her and told me "Daddy, I'm NOT riding with her ever again", I decided to take things into my own hand.

This was about 10 years ago. She had been to the ER 10 to 15 times for stroke like symptoms which were finally diagnosed as simple complex seizures. I asked the Drs to report this to the state, but they would not do it.

I finally wrote a letter to the state DOT DDL and told the story and asked that they examine her for her ability to drive. I asked them to keep my name out of this or drop it.They kept my confidentiality although I imagian this could vary from examiner to examiner.

She had a hearing and they gave her 30 days to get an exam and a letter from a neurologist stating that it was safe for her to drive. She knew that she could not pass any neuro test that the Dr would give her so she just let the deadline come and go and let her license to drive be revoked until her health improved.

I felt a little bad for doing this but felt much better than if she caused a deadly or serious bodily injury crash.

My wife is now 60 Y/O and either bed or wheelchair restricted. My son is now 17 and happy that he never had to ride with her again.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to garylee

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