View Full Version : When, and how, do you try to convince a parent not to drive anymore?
10-10-2006, 06:31 PM
My mom is 81. My dad died a little over 2 years ago, and it's really important to her to be able to get out and do things and to be on her own. She lives in a retirement village, and has her own little house. She has been doing OK since Dad died, mainly because she's getting out and doing stuff. Book club, bridge, choir, etc.
She drives like a maniac. A blind maniac. She doesn't run stopsigns or stoplights, but she doesn't seem to notice other traffic. I live 500 miles away from Mom, and I only see her a few times a year, but everytime I've gone anywhere with her, she's scared the crap out of me with her driving. She's nearly hit cars in other lanes, and merging into traffic is like a near-death experience.
I visited her this past weekend, and noticed a few dings and scratches on her car. She says it's just "things that happen", and didn't give me details. We went to a shopping center, and she pulled into a parking space and whacked right into the pole- painted bright yellow- that was there.
I am really worried about her driving. 3 of my sisters live in the same city she does, and they go through all sorts of logistical gymnastics to avoid riding with her and take turns driving her places. We think that it's just about time to tell Mom that she needs to hand over the keys. I know she'll be furious, and she'll fight us every step of the way.
Anyone else been through this? I'm not only worried about her, I'm afraid she'll kill somebody else. What do we do, and how do we do it?
10-10-2006, 06:40 PM
Depending on where she lives, you can call the local DMV and tell them that she is an unsafe driver. Here in WI, they can make people come in and pass a test to be allowed to keep or renew their lisence. I am not sure of the details, but when an 89 year old hit me, he got referred to be tested. I also know a family that turned in Grandma and she has never gotten her lisence back.
Take away her car. One of your sisters can keep it at their house and take it when they want to go somewhere with Mom.
All of you sit down with her and tell her that you love her, but you are concerned about her driving and don't want her to get into a major accident. Show her articles about old drivers getting into accidents and killing people, point out that if she is injured in an accident, she will end up in a nursing home, and if she hurts/kills someone else she could lose all her life savings in a lawsuit. Then take her drivers lisence and/or keys.
Talk to her doctor and see if he/she can come up with a medical excuse why she can't drive...forgetful, faints, poor vision, whatever.
10-10-2006, 06:40 PM
Not my parents, but both my grandmothers are no longer able to drive. One of them gradually reduced her driving in a manner mostly consistant with her abilities.
The other one, is a story longer than I care to recount today, (and I've told pieces of it before). But the uncle who lived near her spent quite a while "forgetting" to bring the car, or the battery charger, or various other things, to help limit her driving.
If you don't already, look into ways that she can get various places without driving--a bus from the senior center to the grocery store, taxi service to the doctor, whatever. Remember that one of the reasons she is likely reluctant to quit driving is giving up her independence and her ability to do things without you or your sisters being involved.
Of course, one of my grandmothers is quite accepting of the Senior Taxi in her community, and the other one is irked by all the "old people" on the bus to the grocery store (or rather was irked, before her health declined and she no longer lives independantly. Not that you need the confirmation, but she's well over 80, and certainly older than many of those who did take the bus. )
Good luck, you'll need it.
10-10-2006, 06:48 PM
After my elderly father moved in with us, he began to talk about wanting to buy his own car. He had renewed his driver's license by mail, and he would have been within his legal rights to drive. However, he was almost blind, and his body was so wracked by tremors that he sometimes could not sit on the couch without shaking himself off onto the floor.
I was terrified that he would proceed with his plans for getting a car and driving, so I had a discussion with his primary physician, who agreed that Dad wasn't in any condition to be behind the wheel. The doctor convinced my father that he shouldn't drive until his vision and coordination improved (which, sadly, never happened).
I doubt that this would work in all cases, but if the doctor is willing to discuss things with family members, and if the opinion of the doctor is meaningful and important to the patient, it's worth a try.
10-10-2006, 07:33 PM
My dad is only 55 and he's having the same issue. It's a matter of pride to him; he doesn't want to admit that his body is failing from all of his years of alcohol and drug abuse, and that he's getting older. Driving with him is nearly a heart attack - he can't see well, thinks he owns the road, and has coughing spats that make him black out. Every time he has to drive to Reno we worry that we're going to get The Call. A very close family friend died recently because someone spared one minute from their attention on the road; we don't want to lose Dad and have him put another family through the same.
In Nevada you have to have a doctor say that they shouldn't be able to drive. Getting the doctor to do so is like pulling teeth. A cousin of mine is a severe epileptic who shouldn't have even been allowed to take the test in the first place, and her doctor refused to alert the DMV. The only person who is allowed to talk to my dad's doctor about my dad is my mom, and she's too passive to actually do it. It's horrible.
If your mom is like my dad, it's going to take something severe, like totalling the car, to get her to realize that she shouldn't be driving anymore. If you have the route of alerting the DMV to her problem driving, I'd suggest doing it.
10-10-2006, 08:51 PM
Just remember, while driving legally may require a license as well as a car, driving the actual car only requires possession of a functioning car and the keys to it.
I probably shouldn't admit it, but one of my grandmothers continued to drive after her license was taken away, and we knew it and permitted it, because we weren't sure but the alternative was worse. (Grandmother connected being able to drive with her will to live. The uncle who lived closest was in denial about how much driving she actually did--and how far away from her home she got.)
So while pursuing the legal angle is good, especially if it will reduce the desire to drive, don't forget the practical angle.
10-11-2006, 01:23 AM
There is no easy way.
When they kill an innocent, you get to live with the fact that because you did not want the hassle, your elder killed someone, and all the family suffers.
If you have a rich elder that will cut you out of the will or make your life hell, just remember that it is about risk management and money and it always will be.
Out family has been through it many times, from 'easy' to 'hide the cars and alert the police' if granps is missing for 5 minutes because he still knows how to hot wire older cars.
The World is Round,
It is Not Fair,
It is Just Damn Round !!!
10-11-2006, 01:42 AM
Here's something you should read.
Road trip article about the authors dad. (http://www.startribune.com/1244/story/718473.html)
I met a car driving straight across a parking lot a couple days ago. The car was almost hit at about three points, and the drive never slowed or verd from their course. I was almost stopped to give the vehicle a wide berth. What did I see when the driver got close? An old lady hunched forward, with that squinting look on her face, staring straight forward. She sailed by never slowing and never turning her head to check her suroundings. It was almost sureal to see the way in which she drove oblivious to all around her. She was way past the point where her license should have been taken away. Don't let your ma be one of those old people that finaly causes an accident where people die.
10-11-2006, 01:50 AM
Eureka that's about the same as saying let a impared drunk drive because they need to get around. The difference is an older impared driver may be able to drive straight, and some can't manage that either.
10-11-2006, 06:34 AM
I'm not claiming that we, as a family, handled Grandma's driving well or in an appropriate or desirable manner(or even legal manner). We got very lucky, and we know it. ( I also wish to point out that I was never a decision-maker in this process). When it comes right down to it, my uncle who lived nearby refused to confront her, take her keys, and end her driving. He did do a number of things to minimize her driving. I suppose someone else could have done the confronting, but no one else was willing. Probably the other folk were either in denial or reluctant to take control. (Grandma has three sons. Each son has a wife. I can tell you that many details would have been handled differently if the three Daughters-in-law had been in charge rather than their husbands.)
10-11-2006, 06:41 AM
I think the OP needs to just sit down and tell it like it is. She's gonna be pissed off, and that's the price you all have to pay. Tell her you love her and you're worried and that you simply can't allow her to drive anymore. If she won't agree to giving up the keys, tell her you will go to the doctor and the state to ensure she no longer drives. Tough love...it sucks, but it's best in the long run.
She'll forgive you. Have the sisters drive her around, get her the number of the geezer taxi, and be sure she gets out to dinner and shopping...fun stuff. I mean, she probably thinks she won't have any fun anymore, so make sure she does.
Help her organize a ride to her book club and all the other stuff she likes to do. She'll get used to it. Good luck!
10-11-2006, 10:25 AM
If you do manage to get her to give up her car (we managed to get my Grandmother to give hers up after her car had to be towed out of the ditch the third time) and have made promises in order to get her to do so - follow up! Don't tell her you'll take her to the store or to dinner if you won't do it. If you logistically can't help with her transportation needs, send her money earmarked for taxi service. Talk to the place she lives about transportation options, and have them in hand when you discuss the issue with her.
We had little trouble convincing Mom to hand in her license. She, thank Og, was never involved in any accidents, but she kept getting lost driving to and from places she'd been going to for 20+ years. After "rescuing" her the 5th or 6th time less than two miles from the house, she admitted that she was too scared to drive anymore.
She's never said whether or not she misses driving. Actually, I think she likes having SO and I as her personal chauffeurs ;)
10-11-2006, 11:24 AM
First of all, I'm sorry you are going through this. I have a similar situation in my own family, and when I've tried to bring up the subject of limiting driving, I've been screamed at. There are no other relatives around to help, and I'm far away, so working the problem has been exceptionally difficult.
I've contacted the DMV in the relevant state. I was told that if I had witnessed unsafe driving myself, I could file a report and someone would go out and talk to my relative and determine if a driving test is in order. The problem with that is, though, that he would be told who initiated the report, which would outrage him (the denial is very, very, deep too). And if it was determined that a driving test should be taken, it would happen during the day, when he has much less problems, so it could be all for naught.
Another option, which the DMV rep I spoke to suggested, was to contact my relative's doctor and see if I could get him to file a report. The doctor has the option of suggesting restrictions on license too, which for my relative would be perfect - he really shouldn't be driving at night, and I do think if he was told not to by the DMV, he'd actually cooperate. I'm working on this now. Doctors in his state are not required to report physical problems that may cause unsafe driving though, unfortunately, so if the doctor chooses not to cooperate, then I'm still screwed. I bet that HIPPA probably interferes with this as well.
You might have it a little better - you don't say what state your mom lives in, but some states (including Georgia - too bad she's not there with you) do require doctors to report physical limitations that may impair driving.
You should contact the DMV in your mom's state and find out what kind of reporting processes they have. Sometimes people who won't listen to family will listen to an outside authority.
Also, don't let anyone guilt you by saying it's your fault if something bad happens before you can get your mom off the road. That's a cheap shot. Of course you should attempt to remedy the problem, since you know it exists, but it is ultimately the responsibility of the driver to recognize their limitations and act accordingly. These may be impaired adults, but they are still adults. You can only do so much, and if they are really determined your best may not be enough. I wish you the very best outcome.
10-11-2006, 01:00 PM
to offer another side....after my mom got sick, she was on oxygen but still able to drive although she needed new glasses.
I knew she had the appointment and waited patiently for a call at work from her to tell me what the doctor said, etc...and we'd probably joke about getting older, etc.
We were having a meeting, sort of informal, when the receptionist came to get me, saying my mom was on the phone. She asked me to come get her; that the doctor said she couldn't drive home and she was still waiting in their reception area.
I had previously explained to my boss that periodically, I would have to take time off work with my mom. I explained it rather nicely and said that if it became a problem, he needed to tell me. He was most gracious about it.
Anyway, back to the story. I left work, picked up my mom (an hour's drive) and then realized that the doctor meant, not only could she not drive home, she could not drive at all. I went back and picked up her car with a friend the next day and resisted the urge to visit the doctor; let him know that leaving a 76 year old woman waiting in his waiting room without offering to call a cab; find her a way home; or at least call me for her was very close to his last action.
Yes, my mom's vision was deteriorating and she knew it. But for it to end like that......and I've resisted to urge to visit him ever since. But writing this now, makes me feel like socking him, once again!
So, I guess my point is, better coming from you than to leave him/her sitting alone in a waiting room trying to find a way home.
10-11-2006, 06:34 PM
I e-mailed two of my sisters last night after I posted the OP. One of them said that she was concerned, and would ride with her a few times to see if she agreed with me that she's dangerous and not just scary.
The other one (which I could have predicted, seeing as how she's a self-centered bitch) sent me back a snarky reply that I am not the one who will be "hauling Mom around", and essentially telling me to mind my own business.
Mom lives in a retirement community in Louisville, KY, that does a great job getting its residents around. They have buses that go everywhere- afternoon orchestra concerts, movie theaters, the malls, etc. When my dad died, they even took a busload of folks to the funeral. So, she will still have a way to get places- she just won't be able to go when she wants to.
I appreciate all of the feedback here.
10-11-2006, 10:13 PM
Address the issue now, and don't let your sister or your mother talk you out of it.
My dad died in a wreck two years ago at the age of 84. (Thankfully, he didn't take anyone with him.)
We tried talking him out of driving as he got older, and for the most part he listened to us, and had a young lady drive him where he needed to go. Unfortunately, he lived far out in the country, which made driving a necessity, and there were times when his young friend just wasn't available.
He died when he pulled out in front of another vehicle at an intersection.
My advice would be not to wait until this sort of thing happens. Better to make hard decisions now than to deal with devastating consequences later.
10-12-2006, 12:05 AM
My dad, who is 77, is not at this point yet, but he's been just plain annoying to ride with for a few years, and I realized a while ago that someday I might have to take the keys away.
So at a family dinner with my sister, my mother, my stepmother, and Dad (my parents divorced and Dad remarried, but we all get along fine) I made a point of saying to all the parents that they should be prepared for the day when my sister and I insist that they stop driving. Because we love them and don't want to see them hurt.
I don't expect it to be easy. Dad can be stubborn, and he will probably feel hurt and be irritated by the inconvenience. But in the end he is reasonable, and will proabably accede. I hope and expect that Mom and my stepmother will also take it well when their turn comes.
And I hope that laying the groundwork now, before drastic measures are required, will get the 'rents used to the idea and reduce the sturm und drang. In fact, it may be time to repeat the message.
(Then all I'll have to do is persuade my sister to move back from Massachusetts to help out with all the schlepping around. I live five minutes from all three parents.)
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