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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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I found the only way to totally convince my mom was to tell her doctor that she was getting lost while driving. When her doctor put it in writing that she was not to drive she did not. She was perhaps ready to give it up a little before that when one day she got to the corner of her street and had no idea which way to turn to drive to my house. She reported it to me, which I thought was an admission. Another day she stopped at my house to ask directions to the bank. I drove her.
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Squatch33 Sep 2020
This. The only way we ever convinced my dad to do or not do something was to tell him the "doctor said." He seemed to still respect what his doctors had to say (even if they didn't really say it) even as his dementia worsened.

ETA: We didn't actually tell his doctor anything. (Although driving is certainly one of the first things anyone mentioned when cognition starts to fail.)
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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!
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My mom came home one day and told us she got lost in her own town, we immediately took her license away and told mom we would take her anywhere she wanted to go. Told her doctor and he notified RMV, and mom got a letter stating to surrender her license and she got a State ID in the mail. Mom did not put up a fight, she was cooperative.
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Dafodementia,
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!!
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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.
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Kerryb Sep 2020
Wow what a great idea this is. I will let a few of my friends in on this.
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Daof, click on the care topics item at the top of the screen. Scroll down to Driving. Tons of articles and discussions on the topic.

Different methods work for different situations. It’s usually not easy but has to be done.
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Kerryb Sep 2020
i helped take care of our neighbors, all I did was tell his primary care doctor that he was 100% a danger to himself and others while driving. He sent the notice to DMV AND THE SUSPENDED HIS LICENSE. I HAD ZERO ISSUES SAID I SEEN IT FOR MYSELF.
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CALL HER PRIMARY CARE DOCTOR THEY CAN AND WILL SEND A NOTICE TO SUSPENDED HER DRIVER'S LICENSE TO THE DMV. THE DMV WILL THEN SEND YOUR MOTHER A LETTER TELLING HER THAT HER LICENSE HAS BEEN SUSPENDED. TELL THE DOCTOR WHAT HAPPENED AND THAT SHE IS A DANGER TO HERSELF AND OTHERS WHEN DRIVING.
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MaryKathleen Sep 2020
That doesn't happen in California. They have you come in for a test, they do everything they can to help you keep your license. I know, my husband keep getting 2 months extensions on his license while he failed written test after written test. Finally after he got into a fender bender, The Doc told him he couldn't drive because of liability. If he hurt someone and they sued, they would subpoena his medical records, see he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and get everything we have.

He said OK, that lasted 3 days, then he stole the keys off my key ring. He was going to drive no matter what. I was parked behind his truck. I didn't move the car for three days. After he finally gave me the key back he said he wanted our Grandson to have the truck. It was gone by nightfall.
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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!
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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.
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We had mom's family doctor talk to her about this and it worked. I don't agree with calling the DMV though. She's more apt to listen to her doctor and I would think he/she would accommodate your request. Good luck.
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babsjvd Sep 2020
My moms dr told me to contact the dmv... nothing he could do. Dr did tell her to stop driving .. but she didn’t listen
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in my Dads case we talked with the family Dr. Who contacted the DMV. The DMV contacted Dad and had him come in for testing. He failed the cognitive test and they took away his license. It was painful for him and for us but had to be done.

my parents neighbor across the street was driving to breakfast at age 94 and caused a head on accident. He killed the other driver and he passed away a few days later.
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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.

SAFETY. ALWAYS.
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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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Robin1234 Sep 2020
I like your “you are not a 6 year old” statement.
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If she would move downtown in a major city near where she lives, she would not need a car, and probably would not miss having one.
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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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My mom couldn’t use a cell phone but I got her an iphone that I could load thru tracfone. It has an app of find my friend. I was able to see exactly where my mom was. But she didn’t have dementia ....but this worked for me. I am in Wisconsin, and she is in Tucson....
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We had same issue with my gm. My mother “ loaned “ my sister mother’s car so had to “ share” gm car. Just kept it but was available when gm needed to go somewhere mother drove. Eventually gm forgot about car not being there
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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.
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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!
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My Mom was doing this as well,She went missing like 6 times.I took her to her Doctor and He was the one to Talk to her,and Advise her of All the Probable circumstances that might happen. Mom surrendered her keys Then voluntarily. So I suggest having her Doctor explain the Reasons why .
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I found a car disabler unit that tied into the ignition process under the hood. I could control on/off with a button on my key chain. It was installed by a handyman for me. When it waa "off" no one could start it. When on, the car worked normally. I reccommend it, but dont remember where I got it...about 10 yrs ago.
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Mary9999 Sep 2020
Years ago I had an automobile electrical company (recommended by my car mechanic shop) install a "kill switch" under the dashboard. If it was switched the correct direction, the car would run fine. If the switch was in the other direction, the car would not start or even make a noise. Totally dead. I did this so no one could "hot wire" the car, as I lived in a city where this was fairly common. I think the car disabler unit that you speak of, installed by a handyman, would be an excellent solution!
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O, how I do hope and pray that I will be able to know when I can no longer safely drive. i am 86 and i have , for 2 years been driving only in my neighborhood and never in bad weather. People are, I think, expecting too much of me. The nurse at the hospital where my terribly ill and mentally and physically cripples dayghter is to be dismissed today, called and wants me to pick up my daughter. Storms are forecast a 50% possibility. I, of course, will not be willing to do that. i am instead taking a cab even though i cannot afford it.It seems that instead of restricting me, people want me to do too much.
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oldthing Sep 2020
Age comes upon us all ...one day, you look in the mirror and it's there! I try to give my parents space to make their own decision, and they need to be able to go to the doctor, as my dad has cancer treatments...and I know he doesn't want to lose his independence...But somedays, he drives all day long...looking for the perfect bunch of bananas!
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my 90 y/o father won't stop driving, his driving is so bad, and my mother goes with him because she knows he'll get lost or in a wreck. I worry for both of them. He gets violent when you suggest he stop driving. I bought them 911 pendants, but they forget them. They both have low vision, but somehow, they keep getting their drivers lisence renewed?.. Why doesn't the BMV recheck everyone for driving ability after 70? We tried talking to the doctor, they throw it back on me, it's ridiculous! It would save lives.
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InFamilyService Sep 2020
I would personally call the polioe or the state department of driver's licenses. Let the no driving issue come from them. They are in danger of killing themselves or worse others, maybe a family with children. They will get over being mad.
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We obtained a letter from her physician stating she should not drive.
That really didn’t work so eventually we just took it away.
She threatened to call the police and then I threatened to send the letter to the police which seemed to calm things down.
We now have aids to take her out.
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I’ve posted this info several times but as the driving issue is always coming up I’ll put it out there again.

Two tricks I used for my dad as his memory was starting to get bad....

I found a GPS tracing device online from LAND AIR SEA I think is the name. Very small, plugs into the cars diagnostic port under the dash, no battery, works off car battery, easy to program so you can see elders driving in real time on your phone or any device, and a record of their trips. I monitored my dad for 2 years and finally had to end the driving as he started wandering. Dad never knew it was there. You can give the password to other family members to help you keep track

Easiest way to disable a car is to pull out the starter relay. It’s usually under the hood in the fusebox, just plugs in. Put it away for later and plug back in to move the car away. No need to flatten tires, pull plug wires or disconnect battery. Elder tries to start the car won’t even get a click. With my dad.........MUST BE THE COMPUTER. ILL CALL THE DEALER. THEYLL TOW IT IN. OH NO PARTS WONT BE IN TILL NEXT WEEK. And repeat as needed.
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One day my mother said she was off to the local, and nearby sandwich shop. 5 minutes after she left, she was back. She had scared herself because she could not remember how to get there. I told her that I would be her chauffeur. She hesitated for only a moment before agreeing. She never really enjoyed driving, anyway.

Sometimes it's that easy. Sometimes not so much. It depends on so many factors. But once you make things safe, you feel so much better.
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My father-in-law had brain cancer, and still got into the car and drove. He had a fender-bender, and my brother-in-law disabled the car. FIL got it started anyway.

They took out several important pieces from the car so it absolutely wouldn't run. They told FIL that the car was not running, and they were waiting for parts to come in, it was going to get fixed. That was that. They just kept that story up. FIL had no sense of time, so he didn't get suspicious.
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You should talk with her Dr first.

Haven't you ever gotten lost before?

You might speak to her about it and ask her to keep her driving withing 5 or 10 miles to the house.

Also show her how to use her phone gps to tell her how to get home.
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careinhome Sep 2020
Not for 6 hours.
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Can you disconnect the battery so that it won't start, and then tell her the car has to be taken away because it can't be fixed? Some people don't realize that they are getting dementia; your mother might be one. Would she agree to having an aide come in for a few hours a day or week, who can drive her to her doctor appointments and to shopping, etc. Does she need to have help cleaning, cooking, etc.? Her options are limited if she can't use a cell phone. Maybe now is the time to talk to her about what she wants to do if she becomes unable to handle her home by herself. You might want to talk to her about moving to a senior residence near you, so that you can visit her more often. I like residences that offer independent living as long as she's able, but also can handle assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing if she needs more help. Make sure that all of her paperwork is in order while she can still sign legal documents (power of attorney for medical and financial matters, living will that has her medical directives, will, etc.) Some banks have their own POA forms. Dementia only gets worse. You have to help her in a nice way plan for a time when she may be incapacitated. She sounds like my mother who had to go into memory care because she would get lost. At that time she was in independent living in a senior residence and the social worker told me she "had no sense of place." This presents a danger to her. But be prepared, it's a very difficult adjustment for an independent person.
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Contact the DMV and advise the driver safety division of the incident. They will contact to check on her mental and physical driving skills.
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