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My aunt is in the middle stages of memory loss. Still physically very well. But she drinks a lot at night and then falls. She lives independently in a lifecare facility. I want to take the car away to control her alcohol intake.She recently fell and is recovering from breaking a rib. I am going to a meeting about her care Thursday. She will be there as well. And I would like to leave with her keys.

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Honestly, I think the bottom line here is in allowing your elderly person to continue driving when you KNOW they are no longer safe is irresponsible!! I get that it's difficult and they can really put up a fuss, but how would you feel if someone you loved was injured in an accident caused by someone's elderly relative because no one could figure out a pleasant way of taking away the car?

I went through this with my mother and let me tell you, she was not happy. To top it off she was suffering from dementia (more than anyone realized) and did not want to listen to me. She had been an excellent driver at one time, but now she was driving too fast, passing in a no-passing zone, stopping on ramps because she was having trouble merging, etc. How on earth could any of us justify allowing her to drive anywhere?

In my community there are a lot of elderly drivers that are right on the edge. It's time for them to quit driving and I know that there are a couple of reasons that hasn't happened. First, no one wants to confront them and second, it means someone else is going to be driving for them!

It amazes me that it's illegal to drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol and a lot of states have banned the use of hand-held cell phones, but the DOT will still give driver's licenses to elderly people with only a vision test!!!! That's how my mom got her license renewed again after we had stopped her from driving!

What everyone needs to do is figure out what they need to do to get these people off the road. Years ago I was driving to visit my parents and I could see a car coming towards me. Neither of us were driving very fast, thank God. Just as we got to side road that went into a subdivision, he decided to turn and he drove right into the side of my car. No one was hurt, but he was elderly and very shook up. I couldn't believe that he hadn't seen me and, obviously, he shouldn't have been driving.

So, when you are facing a family whose child was killed or badly injured by the relative you had a problem getting the keys from, I think it will put things in perspective. I mentioned disabling the car earlier and I was serious.
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You may consider making a call to the police (informarly), report her behavioral pattern and see what advise the provide. It may sound harsh, but really it's an effort to save her life and possibly the lives of others-
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here is a link to a study that was published that suggests that doctors can play an important role in this task. do a search for elderly driving doctor new england journal of medicine
huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/27/senior-driving-stop-doctors-families_n_1918912.html
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I'm just wondering if anyone has ever tried undoing a battery cable or in some way disabling the car. It might not work in all cases, but I would think you could then say the car is no longer in operating order. If it's someone with dementia, are they really going to know the difference?
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A study just was published on this topic saying doctors are successful at this task.
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We downloaded the form from the DMV and within a month my Mother was no longer driving. She really did not want to drive anymore, just did not want it taken from her. I think it is a crime that people are not tested when they turn 80. It is scary and dangerous to think of someone with dementia driving a vehicle that could be lethal to themselves or others.
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My Uncle managed to do it pretty easy--to get Gm'as license pulled.
He pre-arranged to take her to the DMV/DOL to renew her license. That is, he called them up [this was back in the early 1980's], and told them the problem, that she had Alzheimers, and was starting to get lost.
At the DMV, she was required to take the written test, and the car test.
Because of the call ahead of time, the driving evaluator was more observant than usual, looking for lag-times in reaction, etc.
She failed both.
That way, it was the "nasty DOL" instead of her blaming it on caregiver.

Uncle was harder to get to relinquish his keys...he kept driving despite his alcoholism and health issues. But since he was living with someone, that person was in charge of his issues, not us.

Mom was harder, though.
According to her,
she "didn't have the money to renew her license", and let it lapse.
[[I think something else was going on though--like maybe she had DUI's or other tickets she couldn't pay, because licensing renewals were pretty cheap then]].
She managed to get by without it--barely
--over the years, she got herself permanently thrown off the Sr. transport bus, because she kept running her mouth about inflammatory subjects; she repeatedly bothered other passengers; that resulted in her having to beg rides from others, or to walk.

When she moved up here, she argued and pleaded.
Finally, my brother took her to buy one of those 4WD off-road things
...she thot it was so cute!
Once it was delivered though, when she tried driving it in the rough, gravel road the house was on, it felt too tipsy and unstable, because of the high-center of gravity and short wheel-base. It was also a challenge to get in/out of.
It got returned; she had to pay the delivery charges and then some to return it.

But that didn't prevent her getting an old, ratty RV she imagined herself being able to drive--luckily, it nearly blew up en route to the shop to get major repairs, and from that, it was easy to just have the mechanic get rid of it for her.
She heard the mechanic tell her it was unsalvageable, and that he could get rid of it for her, since towing fees to put it where she wanted, would cost her lots [he quoted prices].

Her real issue with wanting to drive was, that she badly wanted her freedom--to go wherever, whenever....when she couldn't get me to do that for her, she got madder and madder, worse and worse behaviors.
She desperately wanted her freedom, but cared less for social life
--I offered to take her to various senior centers, to the local senior lunches,
to many other events where she could be out and about with other people
---it was never enough
--do not sucker for that, either!

With any elder trying to keep driving, usually there is some tip-off as to what would make them give up the idea--too expensive, can't pass test, cannot afford insurance, no place to park a car, etc..
IF someone is alcoholic, THAT is a #1 priority to get them off the road--but tougher..
IF they have any sort of dementia, it's usually easier to take a license from them, than from an alcoholic.

The posters above have mentioned about taking the person to the DMV, and making sure the person fails the test.
Just make sure the person has some list of backup drivers or transit options, to ferry them around.
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Luckily with our Mom ( mini strokes, no dementia) she was not relectant to give upher driving priveleges. I think it scared her to drive even to church 2 miles away. She knew it was time to give it up, for the last 3 years I had been able to drive her to all hed medical appts & shopping etc. I even inherited the car last week, much nicer than what I drive now.
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Going through something similar with my mother. She wants to buy another car, but I have been trying to talk her out of it. She recently got her drivers license renewed,(but knows she should not drive) but the lady who stays with her during the day couldn't get hers renewed- she gave up her license a couple of years ago when she was recovering from a series of work related concussions.

So.. Mother, who should not drive has her license, and the lady who stays with her only has a permit. Perfect, if you ask Mother. She can be the licensed driver, and her friend can drive with her permit!

I think I have talked her into trying out the local bus. It operates like a taxi.. you call them and they pick you up.. you call them again and they take you home. A lot cheaper than having a car... and safer too!
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My sisters and I used that direct, we are worried about you, approach with my mom too. She wasn't totally for it at first, but after leaving her car running in her parking space at her apartment/ALF and the security guard bringing her keys to her she was more receptive to the idea. Since I was nearby I would take her where she needed and wanted to go. She now lives with me so it's really easy. My youngest sister was in need of a car so we were lucky and were able to get it out of sight quickly. Every now and then she will make a comment about how she would go more and do more if she still had her car! I just tell her that she doesn't need the extra expenses required of car ownership and she has me, her personal taxi driver to take her wherever she needs to go! She has been without a car for so long now (over a year) that I don't think she would even remember how to drive anyway. One of the few blessings of dementia!
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My siblings & I are in the a simular postion. Both parents have dementia. When it came time for my Dad to stop driving he was so mad at the Dr. But he did as the Dr. said. Our mother kept saying to our Dad now the kids think this is best, and they agree with the Dr. Wellll now it is our Moms turn. The Dr. said no driving unless one of her children were with her. She went to MVD and took the test. Passed it. She went on a good day for her. All she had to do was follow directions. One at a time. Example: Go to next light and turn right. She drove awhile, then came go to next light and go left. My 10 year old grandchild could do that. We were so upset. So she went in to get her license renewed. We thought for sure this would do it. When they said tell me when you can see the light . My Mom could not see it. The lady says its on the left, my mom says oh yes I see it now. On the test went. You guessed it .Renewed her license. Broke the car. She called a family friend to fix it. Took the keys, she told everyone we are taking her independence away from her. She wouldnt speak to us. She was gonna call a lock smith. So we gave them back to her. She has had several close calls, her fault . Would have been a head on if my Dad had not yelled at her.. They are both 87. She is past the middle stage of memory loss. All of the answers so far we have tried. My brother says take the car!! Should we ? She would probably call the police. What is so upsetting, this is not our Mother. She use to be a soft spoken lady, who loved and respected her children. And all of her children felt the same towards her. We all miss our Mom and Dad deeply.
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My friend was in a meeting w/alzhimer husband and financial advisors and they told him that if he got in an accident they could sue for all they had. He handed over the keys. The End! Now w/my dementia husband I drove to DMV w/him. We went in, I told them he had dementia and needed a to know how to get him not to drive (he probably would have passed a test at that point). He handed me a sheet and said have the Dr. write it is not safe for him to drive and send it in to Olympia. Faxed sheet to Dr. said what he said to say, she fased back, mailed it in and shortly received notice that after a certain date his license would be revoked unless the Dr. said he improved. While in DMV the man asked my husband for his license which he changed and made it ID only. Whwn we got to the car he said isn't it my turn to drive? I said no and since have had a few scares when I didn't take the keys out to get gas and he got in the driver seat and refused to move and I refused to get in. Called our son who talked him out of the seat. Was upset for short while and then forgot it. I must never leave those keys in the car. He knows if he did take off he would be lost w/out me and not know where to go. The Lord does take care of us.
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Hi We went thru this with my dad having demenia, we talked to the doctor and she by law has to let the secretary of state know there are possible issues. Then a letter is sent out for the individual to go to the dmv and taked all the test, driving, written & vision. Aftre 3 tries my dad said he couldn't pass it, on the 4th try they revolk the priviliges. I then brought his car to my home so he would not drive it. He then gave the car to my daughter. This is the easiest way. Best wishes and lots of hugs because there will he an angry aunt. But you always have to remember her safty and the safety of others. Ask her if sh would let you drive if you wre sick or unable?
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Your aunt may well need to stop driving due to her memory issues and drinking habits. I would try to address the drinking and limit it. However, in general everyone young wants to have the elderly stop driving by some age 70,80 etc. But as a society we need to give the elderly alternate ways to travel if we extract their keys.

Most suburban areas have very limited if any public transportation for elderly who can only walk limited abouts, can't stand on a corner waiting for a bus and may need a lift if they want to ride public transportation to run errands etc.

Too often family members want to grab the keys but will they make a schedule of family members who will take grandmom or grandad to the store, to church, to doctor appts, to get their hair done and on it goes. Most resent taking them to their appts.

I allowed my elderly father to maintain his driver's license to age 92 but he actually stopped driving about age 87. It made him happy to have a car in the driveway, so I maintained the car with car insurance until his death recently.
If it gives them peace of mind it is worth it. I told him he had "graduated" to the wealthy class and had me to drive him to all his appts. He was happy not having to drive but had he been ignored my me and stuck in the house --losing his routine he wouldn't have been very happy. In the end he wasn't up to travel without a medical transport but that was only for the last yr of his life.

Good luck getting the keys but I think she will resist and resent a grab of the keys unless you get her to do it willingly.

Elizabeth
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After speaking to Mom's doctor when I went to an appointment with her, he advised her she should not be driving. She continued to drive. :-( We all worried. I contacted the doctor and explained how she kept driving. We thought we had all her keys....she found a valet key she'd stashed away. The doctor contacted the Idaho State Transportation Department. They issued my mother a letter stating that it had come to their attention that she might not be a safe driver. They gave her a list of things to do (doctor's note, eye exam, retake the drivers' exam, and schedule a driving test) and a deadline. If she did not meet the requirements by the deadline, her license was no longer valid. Mom was not able to handle setting up and doing the things on the list. Her license expired. She didn't want to drive without a license. "That would be illegal!!!! and her insurance wouldn't pay for any wrecks!!!" she exclaimed. Thank you, Dr. C. and Thank you state of Idaho Transportation Department. Check with your DMV and see if they can do the same for you.
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We told my father-in-law that although it was our opinion that he should stop driving, he should let the experts test his capabilities and let the data guide his decision. We took him to an occupational therapist who tested him on the various skills needed for driving. The therapist talked to him about the results. He agreed to stop driving based on the results and the therapist's recommendation. Although we knew going in that he shouldn't be driving, it was more convincing to him to have actual data than to have only our opinion. While it was still emotionally difficult for him to give up the independence, the data made it easier for him to accept. He felt like it was his choice rather than ours and there was no way for him to argue with the data.
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We told my father-in-law that although it was our opinion that he should stop driving, he should let the experts test his capabilities and let the data guide his decision. We took him to an occupational therapist who tested him on the various skills needed for driving. The therapist talked to him about the results. He agreed to stop driving based on the results and the therapist's recommendation. Although we knew going in that he shouldn't be driving, it was more convincing to him to have actual data than to have only our opinion. While it was still emotionally difficult for him to give up the independence, the data made it easier for him to accept. He felt like it was his choice rather than ours and there was no way for him to argue with the data.
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My dad recently relinquished the keys, and he has no dementia or forgetfulness, great eyesight, careful driver. But he's 91, and his reflexes aren't as good as they used to be, and his judgment of speed and distance was starting to deteriorate. I know it was hard, but the way I put it was this: Giving up driving isn't a failure or a sign you're old and feeble, it's a sign that you're prudent and smart enough to know that you have to give up driving while you can still drive. You never know when the day is that you won't be safe behind the wheel. You have to stop driving BEFORE that day, or else you'll find out by possibly hurting yourself or somebody else. I put it much more gently, but that was the gist.
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I love the way you handled this. We will all be at some time faced with these tough things too. How would any of us like to be blindsided? "I care about you", "I love you and am worried about you", "I will help you get around, don't worry". So much better. Honesty and directness. What can be better than that?
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Can you imagine suddenly being unable to drive? Approach the subject gradually and with empathy. Have other options available (public bus, senior care car, church bus, family member to take the person weekly/biweekly for groceries and errands, etc.) perhaps you'll get cooperation with the gentle approach, if not go to plan B - DMV form, as Margareth suggested, stick to "I" form of communication.
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For those of us still struggling with this question, I'm adding my experience, just to share. My mom was ill in January. We agreed she shouldn't drive. In March she got her housekeeper to take her to the hospital for an assessment. They told her she scored at the top of 92 yr olds in intelligence. I asked if that range means she can drive? Didn't make any sense to me at all. Then I finally found out about it and took her for the test. I cleared up some of the lies she told them about how recently she was sick, etc. They took her out for a test, two people, and she charmed them and passed to drive locally and only in daylight. I have repeatedly asked her doctors to help me speak to her about not driving and they refuse to engage on that topic. Her trusted friend and financial advisor has strongly spoken to her about getting a driver, but she still refuses. Lately she has not felt well enough to drive much and fortunately she doesn't drive, but she is a sneaky, fighter and will not give up easily. It is an ongoing battle. The rest of her family, who doesn't live nearby also agrees that she should drive. I feel like I'm fighting with everyone! Fortunately she lives in a remote area and will most likely drive herself off the road and into the woods. Not many other people around where she lives.
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Glad things went well..........sometimes the direct approach works the best!
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I went through this with my dad, he is mid stage dementia. After several calls from the local police department they urged him DMV all they did was send him a letter that he had thirty days to either mail them his drivers license or be retested and send those results, this was sent to my address because he wouldn't have shown it to me. I told him about it, after I made a copy so he didn't tear up the only one, I told him until he retested I needed his keys. I told him tat when he taught me to drive he did not give me car keys until he knew I would be safe, that is what I am doing for you, I want you safe. He never went and got his keys but I went and got them showed him I had them and told him we can go on Monday to test I would be there around 9. When I got there he didnt want to go. He knew he shouldnt be driving. What you could do is tell her her car is broken from her last driving episode, no one was hurt but the car is broke. Or, you could just disconnect something under the hood so the car want start. Good luck with this, it isn't easy, it is easier than getting the call tat your loved one has been killed or has killed someone else because we don't want to deal with them being mad. If all else fails don't ask for the keys just go get them, it's because you love her and your fellow man. I don't regret my decision at all.
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Thank you. I took the keys Thursday. It was remarkably easy. I think she knew it was the right time. I also decided to take an "I" approach instead of a "you" approach. "I need you to stop driving because I can't worry about it anymore" left little room for arguing. She will probably ask about it again, and we still have to get rid of the car. Thanks for your help and support for what I knew was the right answer. I hope this will stabilize her a little bit and let her have a longer quality of life.
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DMV has a form you can fill out for unsafe drivers. Print it out, fill it in and send it to DMV. You can request to be anonymous. In about 3-4 weeks your aunt will receive a request from DMV for her dr. fill out a report on her medical condition. She goes to the dr., he/she fills out the form and dr. returns it to DMV.Another 2-3 weeks go by and DMV will notifiy your aunt revoking her license based on the medical report from her dr. We just did this with our mother and when I told her dr. we reported mom to DMV, he informed the health department. He said by informing the health department, it will speed up the process. Good luck!
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If your aunt is in the middle stages of memory loss then she shouldn't be driving at all. The ability to make quick decisions and rational decisions fades and makes them not only a danger to themselves, but a danger to other drivers. Is she attempting to drive after she has been drinking? I hope not. Do you have POA? She must have some supervision from the care facility so you might coordinate a plan of action with them because aunt is going to be extremely angry when her driving privilege is taken away from her. But it is something that must be done. We had to do it with my mil when the time was right.....she "farmed" our back yard and didn't see a problem. It's easiest to just take the keys and give a simple explanation. No pleading for cooperation, cajoling, etc. Doesn't work and wears everyone out and causes hurt feelings. I like the saying "it's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission" and that applies in this situation. Others will tell you to have aunt's driving ability tested or have the doctor intervene.....well I have personally watched elderly people who couldn't tell the evaluator what a stop sign was on the test, being renewed after that evaluator gave them the answer.....and most doctors don't have time to plead with their patients to give up driving. Sometimes you just have to be firm and stand your ground especially when it comes to the safety of your loved one and others on the road who might be in danger.
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