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Spouse or Partner Caregiver Forum
Once again......stopping the PWD from driving
So, about 3 months ago I bought a new car knowing that it would keep my DH from wanting to drive. We still have an older vehicle, but I am not comfortable with him having driving privileges anymore. My son agrees. His next appointment with his Alzheimer's Geriatric specialist is coming up, and I was hoping that would be a good time for the Dr. to tell him he should no longer be driving, that way it wasn't just me stopping him.
I reached out to his doctor and let him know the current driving situation and this was his response: I do not have the means to determine if a patient should be driving; the primary doctor can order a cognitive safety assessment through Occupational therapy to help determine that, but there will not be a behind the wheel test. Or she could send him for a driving assessment at the DOT, which likely would result in failure in passing the written part.
This surprised me.....why doesn't he just agree and say that he'll help and tell DH he can't drive! Sometimes I feel like the doctor's focus is too much on DH and that he doesn't take my input like he should.
Dodging responsibility. He could order the test just as well as the primary. The major academic rehab center near us does driving assessments (starts with cognitive, if they pass that it includes behind the wheel too) running about $500 out of pocket, but they require a referral to get scheduled. I've tried to convince my partner, but she refuses. Fortunately, in the last few weeks she's given up/given in on the driving, at least for now.
Some of these so-called "specialists" are not interested in anything but diagnosis, I guess. Not worth the money you pay them, IMHO. He probably would argue that it could make your husband mad at him and interefere with the "doctor-patient relationship." I'd look for someone else, if you have the energy.
I feel your pain with this. I think the doctors' don't want to be the bad guy.
DH is stage 6, and at one of his last appointments I told the PCP that DH was obsessing about not being able to drive, upset about it for HOURS a day. The doctor recommended he go for the driving assessment if he wanted to. Sheesh. DH doesn't know my name and couldn't follow our conversation, can't find the bathroom in our house or dress himself. There's no way he should be driving, and I don't want to spend the money for someone else to tell me that. Dr. just didn't want to be the bad guy.
Grrr - how annoying! Depending on your husband's memory, maybe you could just say the next time he wants/tries to drive, "Remember, the doctor said you can't drive." My DH, and many others I've seen on here, forget that the doctor said it, even when the doctor DID say it! As you'll know from other messages, even if the doctor had told him he couldn't drive, and even if his license was revoked, it doesn't mean he wouldn't still want to drive. (And complain about it every day!) I made the doctor out to be the bad guy, while I agreed with DH, to keep the peace.
With DH, the neurologist contacted DMV to say DH was unfit to drive, because of seizures. DH hated that, complained every day and, initially, said he was going to take the neurologist to court about it. I created a fake letter, with the hospital letterhead, with the neurologist saying he couldn't drive, and left it out on the counter. Even with that, he complained vociferously every day up until he went into MC.
Unless the keys were in my hand, or in the ignition, they were locked away where he couldn't find them.
I agree with harshedbuzz - I think you need the old car to disappear.
This is all very strange to me as I always thought that the doctor had the authority to determine when a patient was no longer capable of driving.
It seems even the states have varying degrees of what can/should be done by whom. If you check your state's DMV web site you may find how to report this to them directly. I found this in Va. at least. Should be located with "reporting impaired ability to drive".
Is is possible, in the mean time, to change out the real car key for one that doesn't work on that car?
This is a current, daily battle in our home. The neurologist told us in March that anyone diagnosed should no longer be driving. My husband promised him he would only drive down the back road in our neighborhood to the YMCA for his daily workout....he is stage 3. Then one day I woke up and he and his car were gone. He was out shopping at the home improvement store, something he cannot handle on his best days. He yells at the workers, doesn't understand how to pay, etc. The last time I rode with him on a major highway he almost ran over a moped, pulled out in front of an suv and turned left on a red light. So I took his keys and hid them. It took a few days for him to figure out he no longer had them and he became violent when he found out. He threw me down, held my hands behind my back and tried to search me for the keys. Of course he didn't find them and I stayed very calm and told him he was hurting me and if he didn't let me go I would have to call the police.
He now asks for his keys every day. I tell him the doctor only wants him to drive in the neighborhood and he curses the doctor. We have an appointment in a few weeks and I encourage him that it is something he can revisit with the doctor. He has asked what will happen if the doc says he can't drive and I say hopefully we won't have to worry about that. Meantime, I am making plans to sell the car and have a buyer as soon as that appointment happens. Our PCP has encouraged me that I did the right thing and that if the neuro doesn't tell him, then he will tell him that he can't drive.
I do understand his frustration at the loss of freedom, but it is necessary
Does he normally go to the BMV to renew his license? If so, you can tell the person behind the counter about the problem. A simple note will do. Otherwise I think you should be able to do it online.
I'm lucky that my wife hasn't driven in about 30 years, so this has not been a problem for me. But yesterday one of our kids was here, and somehow the conversation turned to driving. He asked her how long it has been since she drove. She told him just a couple of days.
DW’s neurologist wrote the Rx for a driving evaluation after a typical 6-month check up that showed obvious difficulty with spatial relationships, memory, etc. DW insisted she could still drive and so she did under the evaluation. She was borderline OK on the cognitive and reaction time evaluation and passed with flying colors on the road test/. But she would get lost in our little village, never mind further afield. One day, she set out for the dentist but never got there. She was many miles away, and had no idea where she was or how to get home. She went into a store where an incredibly kind worker figured out what was going on and called me so I could rescue her.
DW was very frightened by that experience, and never drove again. That was an easier end to the driving issue than some of you have had. We so associate driving with freedom and independence—I am enormously sympathetic to those of you who are struggling to wrest the keys away from your LO. Hard as it is, however, it’s imperative to intervene.
A little information......he has no idea how to start the new car because it has push button start. The "old" car's keys are not available to him. We do not drive that car in the winter since it does not have 4-wheel drive and we live in a very hilly area, so it has not been driven since last fall. He was diagnosed in October 2020. And last but definitely not least, he scored a 17 on the MMSE when he was diagnosed, and I do feel that he was competent enough to drive for very short errands in our small rural town. But since that time, I've seen quite a bit of decline in his ability to make decisions and think in any logical way. I would rate him as at least a solid 4, with a few level 5 tendencies starting.
Thanks to everyone for reiterating my belief that it is best if he doesn't drive. I was hoping to get reassurance from his doctor when we see him in August, but it appears that won't happen. DH's birthday is in September (67) and would be required to do a written test in order to renew. He feels that if the doctor tell shim he could still drive, then that means that he would pass the test. I think having him go to the DMV and fail the test.....miserably.....would just be cruel and cause even more stress in our household
Driving tests are useful for new drivers, because the new driver will improve with experience. Driving tests are not useful for PWDs because the PWD will lose ability. Even if he passes now, what about next week?
If he is diagnosed with AD, he needs to stop driving. He will be blamed for anything that happens, due to his diagnosis, because he was driving impaired. Even if his doctor said he was OK to drive, he should stop.
Fortunately, this is a great time to sell a car. There is a shortage of new cars, which has driven up the demand for used cars. I would get offers from a couple of dealers and get rid of the old car.
And last but definitely not least, he scored a 17 on the MMSE when he was diagnosed, and I do feel that he was competent enough to drive for very short errands in our small rural town.Whoa. My dad's neurologist banned driving with a MMSE of around 23. My mom let dad drive newly out of rehab and I went ballistic. There was no accident, but our insurance agent assured me that they would not cover him if driving AMA. My agent's dad had dementia; he feared even in the earlier stages where driving could be OK that in an accident they'd be sued. My mom blew out an optic nerve not long after dad died. I specifically asked the neuro-ophthalmologist if she was fit to drive and he said she was "go to go". She shot me the evil eye when I did this, btw. She has the earliest signs of AMD so she's checked regularly. It's not impacting vision yet. I made it a point to drive with her at least monthly to vet her driving and we decided she should only drive on local roads know to her and during daylight hours. She hit a stopped car at a light at dusk totally 2 cars. She had the identical accident 60 days later in her new car totaling 3 cars this time including one with a driver who leapt out immediately and demanded an ambulance to the hospital and ended up suing her. State Farm represented her under a full-tort option and she never drove again. Here's part of my concern around driving-with-dementia- the timeline between the accident, being deposed ahead of the trial occurred almost a year later and the trial date would have been 18 months after the accident were it not for COVID. The trial was scheduled for 25 months after the accident and was settled the day before. By the time a PWD found themselves dealing with a lawsuit, they could have progressed in the disease dramatically. My mother let my dad last drive in October 2016; he died from complications of Alzheimer's in April 2018.
Thanks to everyone for reiterating my belief that it is best if he doesn't drive. I was hoping to get reassurance from his doctor when we see him in August, but it appears that won't happen. DH's birthday is in September (67) and would be required to do a written test in order to renew. He feels that if the doctor tell shim he could still drive, then that means that he would pass the test. I think having him go to the DMV and fail the test.....miserably.....would just be cruel and cause even more stress in our householdI agree. With my dad, his geripsych who didn't see dad as impaired as he actually was, suggested a driving assessment with a specially train OT at a major rehab center. I wanted to shoot him where he stood. But I told dad I would absolutely take him, he just needed to arrange it which was clearly beyond him. Dad was a lot older, so I don't know if this is something that would work for someone as young as your DH. Being a child, I could also lavish praise on him for how well he taught me to drive which seems to help.
harshedbuzz, DH started in again tonight about renewing his license and "proving" that he is good to drive. So....I brought up a 9 question street sign ID quiz from the Wis. DMV web site under the section about elderly drivers. I explained to him this was just an example of the questions he'd have to take with the written test he's required to take for renewal since he is over 65. After working on the simple 9 question matching quiz for 30+ minutes, I scored it. He got 1 right. He didn't even get the school crossing one right!
As he was working on it....I kept thinking to myself, what will I do if he does okay!! Well, so much for that worry!
My grandfather drove on his farm to the end of his life, but he never drove on the road again after his first stroke. He knew there would be more strokes (there were) and specifically feared running his car over "a bunch of little children" during a stroke. He was not demented, and could rationally make that choice. He was a moral man, and that was the choice he made.
My wife stopped driving voluntarily when she learned she had dementia. She is one of the 30% of PWDs that are aware of their limitations. For those of us whose LOs are unaware of their limitations, I suggest we consider what we are going to say to the parents if our LO kills someone's child. I am fairly sure that "I knew they had dementia but I didn't want to limit their independence" isn't going to be satisfactory.
We are living in a city center, so we don’t often use the car. I only use it everyday fortnight to go to the supermarket, sometimes the weekend to go to the seaside, and for holidays. I was already driving most of the time.
I have first hidden the keys, a 2 1/2 years ago. And now he even doesn’t think to the car. But here we are not car oriented. And he never liked to drive. It’s that less to manage.
The easier way to manage that could be to hide the vehicles so that he can’t see them. I noticed that my partner forget things when he doesn’t see them.
If you should take your husband for a driving assessment would he remember he went. My husbands driving was very good. He never cut people off, he didn’t speed etc, He followed all the rules of the road way beyond the time some of his other skills fell by the wayside, However, he never knew how to get somewhere. I stopped his driving when I realized he may not be able to pick the appropriate lane when making a turn and start down one that was clear at the moment but traffic would be coming towards us when cars came that way. I started realizing that I needed to say, stay in the right lane because you’ll be turning shortly. We gave our older car to a grand child that had just gotten his license, saying we were helping them out so they didn’t need to purchase another car and that was a huge help. It still made him angry but I’d say you can ask for it back and of course he wouldn’t ever do that. Then, any time we went somewhere I always had my keys in hand and got in the drivers side so he let me drive. I also put a blank key on his ring in case he ever tried to get in and take the car. And the few times he’s pushed the issue I told him his medicine would not allow him to drive. He’d get irritated but of course but didn’t remember at a time when he was taking his meds. so he didn’t say he wouldn’t take his meds. So he could drive.
Most doctors are more than willing to be the bad guy and tell them they can’t drive. Shame on those who won’t. As a care giver you have many times where you need to say No so they should step up and say No driving.
My experience with getting help from doctors to stop the driving has been nil. First it was my mother, who was unable to drive because of physical limitations. Then it was my husband because of Alzheimer’s. With my mother we used logic. With my husband I use stealth. First, I gave my car to my granddaughter for her Sweet 16 birthday. Now we are down to one car. Despite the neurologist telling my husband he shouldn’t drive, my husband debates the diagnosis, telling the doctor he’s wrong. You cannot use logic with dementia. The doctors made suggestions but they refused to go further.
What I’ve done for the past 18 months is continue to let my husband think he can drive. I just get to the car before he does, which is easy these days because he has become so slow. If he asks where his car keys are, I make up a dumb excuse which he’ll forget anyway. I start the car, leave the house, and never mention who’s driving until the next time. It has been a surprisingly easy way to deal with keeping my husband off the road, except as a passenger.
I live in a retirement area, so it’s prevalent, but there’s news stories weekly about a PWD in a serious accident, or video of them leaving the courthouse after losing a case/lawsuit over a wreck. Almost always, the family is saying,”he only went around the corner,” or “she seemed ok just driving around the neighborhood .”
One woman driver was killed in a wreck around Christmas, family is sobbing on TV that yes, she had Alzheimer’s but “didn’t seem that bad,” and “she just drove to the little shop down the block.” Maybe she was fine, until she wasn’t.
Lawyers look for accidents where a driver’s dementia is possible or likely. And they will sue, regardless of fault. And they will usually win.
I think it’s appalling, shocking, the doctor would not support you. I’d think just being unable to turn on the car with a button start would be enough evidence that driving is not safe. That’s incredible.
One of my elderly neighbors died in a collision two blocks from her home, on a quiet residential street. Everybody but her knew she couldn't drive safely, just from watching her struggle backing out of the garage. There is no such thing as a safe short trip.
Some of my neighbors have small children. Others have grandchildren who visit. One neighbor has AD and drives a car. I braked when he pulled out of his driveway in front of me a few weeks ago, and I don't think he ever realized what he had done. His wife knows he shouldn't drive, but hasn't been able to stop him yet. He probably won't kill his grandchild, she's a teenager and fast on her feet, but I worry about the others.
Once again I thank you all for giving me a safe forum to vent and to get some much needed and appreciated feed back.
I am young, and definitely strong willed, and I WILL NOT let him drive. I just hate that I have to be the big meanie and that the doctor didn't help me navigate this situation so that it would be one less stresser for me to deal with.
Thanks again, I am so thankful for this community.
Even if the physician tells your husband he can no longer drive, it doesn't mean your husband will accept what his physician says and that he will willingly and easily give up his keys. More likely he will disagree with what his physician has stated, will not accept it, and you'll end up right back at home having to be the person who lowers the boom and enforces your husband to no longer drive.
So although it may be difficult, take a deep breath, strengthen your resolve and say "no more driving because...(insert fiblet as needed). Then back it up selling his car (if you have separate cars) then hiding your keys in a locked box or secure location.
As a reward to look forward to on the other side of this, you may find that maintaining and insuring only one car saves you money and reduces stress.
I sold my car and drive DWs car. It has push button start and she doesn't remember how to start it, even though it was HER car when new in 2012. So, she still has her car, only now she has a chauffer.
Sometimes she gets in the car to go home and says "Home, James." I guess James was the chauffer on Downton Abbey. Whatever works.
CStrope - you do not have to be the bad person. This is a time for subterfuge. It is likely more kind, and possibly will work better anyway in terms of your DH accepting it. It was definitely the best path at our house.
I never told DH he could not drive (maybe 1x actually, during an ice storm. He got super mad, but I would not move out of the way -- thankfully he gave up, stormed off, but forgot about it a few days later.) After that, we experienced a mysterious string of incidents that I personally had no opinion about. None. Blank look. Raised eyebrows. Shrugging shoulders. No comment.
The car was finally disappeared after multiple trips "to the mechanic", "the dealer for that recall issue", missing keys, missing garage door opener, car just wouldn't start a few times (don't ask don't tell, but someone had to disable it repeatedly...don't ask me who done it DH really would not give up).
I really think you should just disappear all sets of keys and that car right now; mum's the word. Out of sight, out of mind really worked for us, eventually. And my response to his questions was always..."huh!" "Really?" "OK, I'll call the police for you and report it if you really think it was stolen". Rinse and repeat.
The whole driving thing for some LOWD is just so hard. That has been the biggest stressor for my HWD, age 56. First I was able to reason with him that if he got into an accident the insurance wouldn'T cover him because he had a diagnosed brain issue. I said we could be sued and lose everything that we had worked so hard for. That worked for awhile while he still kind of understood what was going on in his head. Then he progressed to the stage where he he tried to reason that 'didn't all the years he drove without an accident count for anything' and I was able to counter with " nobody is disputing the fact that you have the knowledge to drive, the problem is that your reaction time etc might be compromised", and he said that he understood that. In fact he agreed for me to write a note and stick it to his armoir door to remind him every day why he couldn't drive. After awhile he threw it in the garbage because he didn't want to be reminded every day. In the spring he decided we should sell his motorcycle if he couldn't drive it. I had his brother come and pick it up the next week! Now he tells me that he misses the bike and wished he didn't sell it. He wants to go and buy another but won't drive it until he gets insurance. He starting having some seizures in May and we are scheduled for an MRI in mid August. I keep telling him we can't buy another motorcycle until we get the results of the MRI. The seizures are real to him, but the dementia is not. Anyway, I'm glad to be able to put him off but at the same time worrying what his reaction to the MRI will be. I'm hoping it will show something that will enable me to convince him he can't drive. BTW, his license has been suspended since 2019 on advice from his doctor and we agreed to make the insurance company the bad guy. I would say that MHWD is late stage 5, early stage 6 - his driving started to be worrisome late 2018, early 2019 when he had issues backing up. Driving forward was not an issue. Funny though, he never asks to drive my SUV or his truck, just his motorcycle.
If anybody has any advice on how to make this easy, please go ahead!
I totally get that it's a loss of power thing, and that me taking that power away from DH is a big part of the problem. That is why I was hoping that the dr. would help me navigate these waters. I'm not quite sure why this one thing is what his brain has focused on being upset about, but it has. Every day it is a discussion, and every day the conversation ends with him saying, "okay I get it, I can't drive any more". Then the next day comes, and the same complaints and the same stress over not driving.
As my mother always said, this too shall pass. But in the meantime I wish the doc would have helped me out!!