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Hi,


I cannot get my husband to understand he can not drive anymore. He left yesterday and got lost, he did finally make his way home. I have talked to police, doctor and have basically gotten no where! Of course it is all my fault! Any suggestions please! I am desperate.


Thanks, Dot

We took my FIL to the neurologist and had him do a simulated driving test. He was SO excited when she told him he scored a 96! Then she explained that was a 96% chance of him being involved in a major accident with driving. She showed him his deficits: Hand Eye Coordination, eyesight, ability to do more than one thing at a time, inability to respond to quick situation changes. She was very kind and told him she could tell he was a very responsible and kind man and told him that she knew he would be devestated if he caused an accident that hurt or killed someone and especially if it killed his wife. Then she asked how he felt. He said he was not happy with those results. She told him that she could force him to give up his liscense but would be forwarding her assessment to the DMV and they may do so if he did not willingly do so. When my husband and BIL left with him he said nothing for a while, and then he said "Well, I guess you should sell my car and cancel my insurance." They told him how proud they were of him for making that decision. He stuck with it. The car left that day, which helped.
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NeedHelpWithMom Apr 3, 2021
What a great idea to do a simulation test!

People have done this with teenagers who feel that they can text and drive.

Actually, it isn’t just teens who text and drive. Older people do it too. Texting while driving is an awful thing to do too.
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I recently had the same problem with my Dad. I wrote a letter to his "Alzheimer's doctor" (neurologist) and listed recent scary episodes with Dad's driving. I tried to do this in a matter of fact way. Then, in the letter, I asked for him to order a driving evaluation. He did! We went to an occupational therapy clinic and Dad was given a simulator test, then a road test, and answered questions in the office. It was a 3 hour test, and insurance didn't cover it- but it was money well spent! About $300. Then the doctor received a copy of the results, and called us to make an appointment. Once there, Dad was told he failed the evaluation and the risks involved if he kept driving. He was given a form from the State to sign (he did) saying he would surrender his license and stop driving.
I hope this helps you.
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You make sure he can not get the keys to the car if it is the only one you have. (If he had his own car get rid of that one, tell him it is at the repair shop)
I had a small safe where I kept the keys to the car or I had, and still do, them on a carabiner and clipped to my belt loop and I wear them all the time. AND I always kept the car locked.
The facilitator to my Support Group had a mechanic put a switch under the dash so that her husband could not start the car even if he got the keys.
I also told my Husband that the medication that he was taking said not to drive while taking it.
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There are a lot of ways to stop someone from driving, but very few -- if any -- ways to do it where the person will be happy about it. How upset the person gets about losing his/her driving privileges depends on a lot of things.

My dad was always a very strong-willed, independent, even controlling person. He prided himself in having a nice car. He was the one who always drove because mom never had a license. Once his dementia set in, the whole driving issue became a nightmare for me.

I couldn't reason with him. His answer was always "there's nothing wrong" and "nothing's going to happen." Telling him that he might scratch/smash his car, hurt himself, hurt mom, or hurt someone else made no impact on him.

He couldn't remember to fill the tank, pay the registration, pay the insurance, or any of the other responsibilities involved in operating a car, but yet, nothing was wrong in his mind.

Dad was so insistent that nothing was wrong that I would second guess myself and start thinking that I was crazy and over-reacting. Thank goodness I talked to other people that could validate my concerns.

Initially, I put a tracker on dad's car so I could find him if he got lost or ran out of gas. Plus, this tracker gave me feedback on his driving speeds and quick stops.

When I saw enough on the tracker and from his day-to-day behaviors, I knew something had to be done. I tried telling him that my car was in the garage and asking to "borrow" his. That worked for a few days, but he eventually started yelling at everyone and demanding his car back.

So, I returned his car and the keys to him, and then took the keys back when he wasn't looking. (You need to make sure you get ALL sets of keys!)

For awhile, I had a family member park their car in front of the garage door, so dad couldn't get his car out of the garage.

I know people who have disconnected the battery or done other mechanical alterations so that the car won't start when the person goes to use it. This can work if the person isn't mechanical and won't call someone to fix it for them

I know POAs who have sold the car to prevent the person from driving. This can work if the person doesn't have the means to borrow, rent, or buy another car.

I decided to keep dad's car at his house rather than sell it. He seems to get comfort from seeing the car at his house, and this keeps him from yelling and making everyone miserable. With his dementia and physical health, he rarely thinks of going anywhere, but he likes to see his car sitting in the driveway. I can imagine that for some people, seeing the car would stir up temptation, anger, or sadness.

For dad, having the car is a comfort, but for me, it's a huge hassle and a waste of money. We're paying insurance and all expenses on a car that's rarely used. And, guess who gets to take care of all the upkeep on it? Right now, the battery is dead and won't hold a charge because it sat at his house for a year without me running it.

Dad eventually had his license recalled after a doctor reported him to the Dept of Transportation. I had been talking to all of his doctors about his driving. I don't even know which doctor reported him, but I'm glad one of them did! Dad got a letter in the mail saying that due to medical reasons he needed to send in his license immediately, or he would be fined/arrested. I mailed his license in because dad was unable to manage his mail at that point.

I kept the letter from the state and I've shown it to dad on a few occasions when he's demanded to drive. Seeing the letter did NOT help him at all. Dad would say the letter was a fake, or he would blame me for mailing his license to the Dept of Transportation.

Thankfully, the outbursts about the car are rare now, but it took quite awhile. I wish I could tell you some easy way of handling this issue where everyone is going to be safe, calm and agreeable, but unfortunately, I don't think there is one. I hated every minute of dealing with this issue.
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usjet333 Apr 3, 2021
You "strongly" disagree with me? Why? You want the OP to only consider your advice and no one else's, so you attack me? You have some control issues of your own you should examine. If you patronize other people in your life the way you're patronizing me right now, I suspect you do have control and hubris issues. You've been personally responsible for revoking FOUR people's driver's licenses? My goodness, most people have never revoked even one. A bit of a god-complex perhaps. Judgmental. You know what's best for everyone else, even total strangers on the Internet. Just because your uncle screwed up doesn't mean every other old person must stop driving too.

You don't even know the OP, or me, yet you're advising her to patronize her husband and betray the trust he's built for her across many decades of marriage by going BEHIND HIS BACK to the authorities to cut him off at the knees and revoke his driver's license and independence? That is so grossly inappropriate for you to interfere with someone else's life like that. A complete stranger, no less.

Do you ever get lost without a GPS, written directions, or a map? I'll bet you do. I know I do, and I'm middle-aged, not an old guy. Everyone does, of all ages. That alone isn't a disqualifier for driving.

I never advised the OP to allow a dangerous person to drive because of his "feelings" or "ego." I just said she will cause a whole lot of damage to his trust for her if she goes behind his back, and she owes it to him as her husband and friend to respect his dignity and honor their marriage as he slips into dementia and loses his independence. She accomplishes nothing by secretly torpedoing him, patronizing, gelding, castrating, and emasculating him with secret betrayal. That's the wrong answer. He'll know she was responsible for it anyway after the fact, so what does she gain by betraying him, vs being up front and honest? If she really wants to revoke his license, she should say it to his face, COMPASSIONATELY without patronizing him, honoring him as a man and a husband, letting him save face, dignity, and self-respect, and tell him she's going to the DMV. She shouldn't sneak it. I've seen this happen in my own family, and it PERMANENTLY DESTROYED the relationships.

The resources to which I pointed the OP help in determining with the loved one if he/she is still safe to drive. These experts also address how to compassionately, OPENLY, and honestly "take the keys" from a loved one if necessary. The OP is much better off with their advice than yours or mine, or any other stranger on this thread. SEARCH at the top of the page (with the magnifying glass): type in "driving" Lots and lots of expert advice.

My own brother, a know-it-all...in EVERYTHING...the smartest guy in the room, very judgmental, decided our 77-year old mother, a retired lawyer, is unfit to drive, because once she got confused without GPS in a strange part of town, and once in 10 years, she had a minor fender-bender in a grocery store parking lot. He "secretly" arranged Alzheimer's tests at her doctors' offices, and secretly lobbied her doctors, with exaggerations, to have them revoke her license with the DMV. I'm in a different state so it's hard for me to intervene. I've read all the professional literature on this issue, and I know my mother and have watched her drive, and in my view she's still safe enough to drive, but my brother doesn't bother with the literature from the professionals, because he already knows everything.
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I've had to personally act to make sure 4 elders in my life stopped driving. You must do things they aren't going to like, and be angry at you for, so be prepared for this. In your husband's case I would take and hide all sets of keys. If he insists on driving you just insist on either going with him as a passenger or as the driver. Then, you can go online and anonymously report him to the DMV. They will send out a letter informing him he has to come in to renew his license and take tests, which he may or may not pass. Worst case scenario is that you completely remove the car from your premises to a secret location and make sure friends and family know that they are to never lend him their vehicle.

My elder uncle should have had his car license ended or his car removed. He went through a red light and got t-boned which killed his wife and dog (but mercifully the other people we not seriously injured). All there needs to be is 1 incident where he mistakes the gas for the brakes, etc., for there to be a tragedy. You are the only person with the power to prevent something regrettable.

A strategy I used with 2 very senior aunts was to discretely line up rides for them with family, friends and neighbors to all their appointments and church, etc. I gave the volunteers gift cards to nice restaurants, enough to cover a meal for them and my aunts. So, my aunts got some nice socialization, a nice meal out and the volunteer got thanked/rewarded. Eventually my aunts hardly missed driving themselves. I'm sure you can work out a strategy for your situation. I wish you success!
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BCagain Apr 2, 2021
Very helpful except the point of willingly being his passenger . uh uh.
Other than suggesting the OP be willing to commit suicide you have some wonderful solutions which can work in the majority of cases. I really like the strategy with your aunts. Something similar worked with my mother.
The fuse for the fuel pump of my FIL's vehicle is ow in his neighbor's pocket.
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If there is not, I think Drs should be made to report someone who the know should not be driving. Just like being a mandated reporter. I don't know why they are so hesitant. It could mean someones life. My grandson is an epileptic and his PCP reported him when he found out medications were not helping with his seizures. It took 3 months for DMV to tell my Gson to hand in his license which was too long in my opinion. Gson had stopped driving when his doctor told him too.

If you think he is a danger, than report him. He will be given a test.
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help2day Apr 10, 2021
Primary care physicians are reluctant to do this as it is a patient trust issue. Physicians have a hard enough time getting the elderly to trust their judgment and "follow doctors orders" regarding medication, exercise, etc. that if they feel their doctor is going to "report them" to the DMV and take away another one of their freedoms, they will be more wary to see their doctor. I understand it's a safety issue and driving is a privilege not a right. However, that said seniors feel they will always be independent and when they have things (like driving, living independently, managing their $$, etc) taken away from them, they start to distrust everyone trying to "help" them. There are programs out there that will evaluate driving skills of the elderly or others with other health conditions (i.e. stroke recovery) that are more effective than trying to deceive a senior. They are pretty convincing when they get their evaluation and provide added support for family members to justify to the senior that he may need to reevaluate driving. It is a dilemma, no doubt, and the safety of himself and others is paramount.
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It’s a tough one. My cousin who is 98 drives!

She says that she only drives close to home.

Never has had an accident but I get concerned because she does get speeding tickets. She argues with the police about getting a ticket.

There is a shuttle bus from her senior home that will take her to her doctor appointments but she says that she hates to take it.

When she went to the DMV, they told her if she passes the eye test she can get a license.

Doesn’t it seem like people past a certain age should have to take a driving test?

I think it is sensible and reasonable but apparently that isn’t the case in Louisiana.

My cousin has no intention of giving up driving.
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jacobsonbob Apr 5, 2021
I would think that ANY person, especially an elderly one who wants to keep driving, would make a point of obeying speed limits because speeding attracts the attention of the police who may start questioning the person's ability to drive safely. In a sense, this might be beneficial in the case of a person who truly needs to quit driving, but for others (of any age, really) it only creates legal and other problems. If one wants to convince others that s/he is still a safe driver, then driving safely should ALWAYS be demonstrated.
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Many docs don't want to be involved. Police often can only get involved after the fact. DMVs aren't always helpful (mom's license state requires self-reporting for dementia!)

HOWEVER, there are too many posts I've read on this forum that talk about relatives who continue to drive despite being told not to, having their license revoked, etc. That doesn't stop them. They either dismiss the whole idea or forget it!

Hiding the keys might work for a while, but don't underestimate those with dementia!!! When we had to take mom's car away, YB did all the talking and took her key. On the way out, I suggested disabling the car as I was sure she had another key. Next day, who gets the nasty call? Me. Never touched her key and told her so. Day 2, another nasty call demanding I get down there now and fix whatever I did to her car. So, she dug around and found that other key! If he hadn't pulled the battery cable, she would have been off like a rocket!

For most men, I wouldn't suggest disconnecting the battery cable. That's too easy. Additionally, you need to drive. The first option I can suggest are to use The Club, which locks the steering wheel - keep the key for that on you at all times! The second option is to have a kill switch installed. Just be sure to have it placed where he isn't likely to see it AND only deactivate it before he gets into the car, so he doesn't see you flip the switch.

Revoking his license may sound great, but it won't stop him from trying!
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Advice to take away the care or disable it is no help to people who need the car for themselves or someone else in the household.
Revoking someone's license won't necessarily stop them driving, there are plenty of unlicensed and uninsured drivers on the road.
Hiding the keys can cause problems if the person with dementia may become violently angry, and that is unpredictable.

Many (most?) cars today have a transponder key with a chip inside and the car won't start without these special keys. If you cut a plain key it will open doors and in my car at least turn over the engine but the car won't start (I learned this when I had a plain key cut to hide as a spare - lol). Ask your dealer/mechanic if this will work for you.
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disgustedtoo Apr 5, 2021
I have one of these stupid things. It is big and bulky, so it has to stay in my pocket, not on the key ring I have. I also have to wrap a rubber band around it because the button gets pushed when I move around and it pops the key out, poking me or making holes in the pocket! I would *LOVE* to get just a key made, so I could keep it on my key ring. I know I still need the thing, but I don't have auto-locks, so I have to dig it out, unwrap it, open the door and then put it all back, only to repeat when I get somewhere (thankfully I can lock it by hand before closing the door.) I've been told no can do. I did talk to a locksmith who said he could (maybe, maybe not), but he wanted at least $40 to make a key.

Personally I detest the push-button start, but even scarier, I saw an ad for a car that starts when you sit down in the driver's seat!
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I can think of only three ways. First, do all that you can to get the professionals to make him stop. If it doesn't work, keep a record of your attempts to protect yourself if there is an accident. Two, disable the car or take the keys and keep the doors locked at all times. Three, most important - if it is necessary to go to do errands or whatever he is doing, make immediate arrangements that will definitely provide a ride to him to take him wherever and whenever he wants. That is the toughest one of all to solve. I know. I can still safely drive and do and I will be 88 (no one complains - tells me I am an outstanding driver) but if my car needs repairs, etc. or I am ill and need a ride, getting a ride from anyone is nearly impossible. I had to hitch hike on two occasions and I was terrified but I had no choice at the time. This is a must - you cannot stop someone from driving unless alternative means of transportation are guaranteed. Sorry, but that is why so many people just don't give up.
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jacobsonbob Apr 5, 2021
A large part of the problem is that public transportation is sparse or unavailable in many places--for example, in the US. It's wonderful that there are some services that will get someone downtown, or to the doctor or shopping center, but what if someone wants to go to visit a friend, or even public land in a rural area?
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