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How to take car away
Posted: Saturday, November 23, 2019 2:25 PM
Joined: 3/26/2019
Posts: 24

My father has some form or dementia and him and my mom live about 6 minutes from me. I've been talking with my mom for a little while now about getting the car or keys away from dad. She has finally agreed it's time. He doesn't drive far and is actually very careful, but he doesn't know time now and he's threatened to take the car and go out at 2 a.m. as well as saying that he needs to go find his home. This is a fairly recent thing.  He won't let mom drive and even if he did, I don't think she'd be able to handle his constant nagging and telling her how to drive, which is what he does with me. Anyway, what's the best way to handle this? Move the car when we can so it's not there when he wakes up the next day? Or, disable it somehow so it won't run? Taking the keys away from him is not a viable option as he always has them in his possession. We can't reason with him on anything so I doubt we would be able to reason on him not driving. He is aware enough to know certain things and is always going to the garage to check on the car. I don't want to cause him more angst than necessary but we need to start his process. 

Thanks for any suggestions. 

Posted: Saturday, November 23, 2019 2:31 PM
Joined: 5/16/2017
Posts: 580

I would disable the car with the advice of a mechanic. There are several fuses you can unplug that will cause it to not start, but can be replugged to move it later when you want it to disappear to sell it
Posted: Saturday, November 23, 2019 2:43 PM
Joined: 3/26/2019
Posts: 24

Thanks @terei.  My husband can do those kinds of things. He used to work on cars. I'm not sure what Dad would do when he goes out and the car won't start, though. But, I guess this is a good place to start.
Posted: Saturday, November 23, 2019 4:41 PM
Joined: 3/4/2019
Posts: 2

I am the daughter of a parent with Alz.  My mom is the primary caregiver and I am support for her and my dad.  I have to disclose that he is likely ending the mild stage moving into the moderate and we have not taken away the car, though it will be very soon.  So, I don't know first had how its going to happen.  

I have a couple of questions that may be pertinent and helpful in the long run.  1) Does your dad have a formal diagnosis and support for the diagnosis from a primary doctor? 2) Does your dad acknowledge that he has dementia?  

Our understanding is that some physicians will write a prescription or recommendation to stop driving.  Or families can report- anonymously if needed, to law enforcement, that someone needs a driving evaluation.  In our area, one of our rehabilitation centers offers a driving assessment (for a fee, not covered by insurance- which may vary by location). 

But here's the interesting thing.  At first, we were hesitant to talk to my dad about his illness.  But, as his symptoms have increased (He's still basically competent, but starting to go down fast) and we help him tie the changes to his illness, he seems to bring up changes or be more accepting somehow.  The subject of driving came up again recently and my mom mentioned it would get harder.  My dad admitted that driving in traffic was getting harder, so maybe she needed to drive where there would be traffic.  

I agree that in many cases the keys and the car just need to go.  I personally think that with an alz/dementia diagnosis the doctor should be the one to declare driving over and the license suspended, long before most families do it.  But without that, families have to figure out what to do and how to do it.  So, if your doctor is not providing that kind of support, I would suggest considering addressing any and all of the junk that comes with dementia as early in the process in teeny tiny baby steps as possible.  So that in this "in between stage" the patient can be involved in the process rather than (hopefully) fighting every step of the way. 

IF you do have a fighter, then you may have to try all the tips and tricks:  Hide keys, disable the car, sell the car, treaten, bribe, cajole, and tell horror stories.  Seems as if this is what people seem to do in that stage before deny, delay and destract when the really bad memory stage sets in.  Since it looks like my dad will loose driving privledges before too long, We are going to try to work out a schedule so we can still have my dad get out of the house.  We are fortunate that my parents are relatively near a couple of family members.

Best of luck to your family

Posted: Monday, November 25, 2019 7:35 AM
Joined: 3/26/2019
Posts: 24


Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. My mom and I are in a different and more difficult situation than most. My father refuses to go to the doctor. He did have a dr when he got out of the hospital when he had his heart attack and liked him but absolutely refuses to go back. Therefore, he no longer has any medication for blood pressure, heart or anything. So, I have no help on that side of the fence. He can't hear well and refuses to acknowledge that and wear any hearing aid. Any time we bring up those two subjects he gets mad and turns off. We have not addressed the driving issue simply because we assume it will go the same way. Maybe we shouldn't. Mom does say he realizes he doesn't remember the way to certain places anymore. However, I don't think he would take the subject of not driving too well. But, you never know. He is usually pretty congenial, but when he doesn't get his way or thinks he is being told what to do, he can get pretty aggressive. It's been challenging to navigate. To your second question: no, he does not acknowledge there is a problem. 

I will keep your answer in mind as we go forward. Thank you again! This forum is so helpful. I am so sorry you are dealing with this as well. Sounds like you and your mom have your hands full, too. Best to you both as you navigate the nuances of this terrible disease.  

Posted: Monday, November 25, 2019 1:13 PM
Joined: 1/4/2017
Posts: 44

Anxiety Girl,

I did not have your exact situation, but I did have to take Moms keys. It was her siblings that made it difficult. They don't live here and when they visited and she drove, she was going to the same places they always did at times of the day where there was not much traffic (and we live in a small town to start). They just did not see what I did. I don't think they wanted to. 

There is a testing place and she did the assessment. There was a computer portion, to see if you could follow directions, and then a drivers road test. She made 40 errors, some small and some not. The person had to use their set of breaks twice. Even with the written report they balked. She made excuses, they didn't tell her to go straight or turn, thats why she stopped (it was explained at the beginning that you continue straight, following all road signs and laws unless told otherwise), she made turns from the wrong lanes, and tried to blame road construction, she was 'going around it' even though they clearly told her to continue through it following the construction guides. She cut people off and at the end was so flustered she parked in the middle of the street, not a parking spot. 

It was all going to be brushed away if they could. Anxiety not Alzheimer caused it all. Thankfully the testing company holds the power to write a letter to the DMV and there was no choice about it. Her licence was revoked. 

I tell you all this because with all the excuses and bluster of her siblings, with all the excuses she tried to make, in the end I said "Mom have you not noticed I have not allowed my kids in your car for over two years now. Its not safe." She looked at me and said "Well alright then. I can't drive." That was it. 

Now she was upset about it, you could tell there was frustration at the adjustment. She loved to just jump in the car and get herself an ice cream if she wanted, and now if I was busy she had to wait. I tried my best, but I was the only driver left at the time. So waiting for what she wanted was difficult for her. But she adjusted. It was not the end of the world. 

Posted: Monday, November 25, 2019 1:20 PM
Joined: 10/9/2014
Posts: 1087

Depending on how much your dad can still do, I'd consider if disabling the car is enough. Some PWD may not be capable of driving, but, they would be able to call a repair shop and have them come and get the car to take it in to repair shop.  Also, some PWD may get ride into town and purchase another car.  I'd discuss a global plan on how to get control over the car, finances and his whereabouts. I realize it may be very difficult, as it's not often met with cooperation.
Posted: Saturday, November 30, 2019 11:48 PM
Joined: 10/15/2019
Posts: 3

I just recently went through this with my Dad, What finally worked is to file a report anonymously to the DMV that he has dementia.  They will then send you a questionnaire that has to be filled out by his doctor or they will have do a road test or a written test and then it’s on the DMV versus being on a family member as to whether or not he can drive. It hasn’t been easy but it’s starting to get more manageable for my dad.
Posted: Sunday, December 1, 2019 9:56 AM
Joined: 7/19/2019
Posts: 9

My dad actually did get in a small fender bender after deciding to drive out of nowhere (hadn’t driven in months so we thought we were safe) and we told him the car was going to cost too much to repair so it had to be junked. He asked about seeing it and then getting a new car a few times but we just said we couldn’t afford it. He let it go and forgot about it pretty much after a few weeks. Every so often he says he misses having a car but I take him for drives and he seems content with that. Since it’s a much bigger expense than repairing a car your dad may be more complacent with a similar story.
Posted: Monday, December 2, 2019 6:46 PM
Joined: 2/16/2019
Posts: 79

I took my mother to a rehab that does driving assessments. One half was a test in an office and the other half was on the road. She failed miserably. They took her keys and gave them to me and reported her name to the DMV for removal of her license.

The trick was getting her there and if your father won't go to the MD, it will be tough. I told my mother that the ONLY way for her to prove to all the doubters that she COULD drive was to get the evaluation, so her pride caused her to comply.

At this stage, my mother would forget all about the car in 2-3 days if I just took it away, but back then that would not have worked. So it depends on the stage of dementia.

I would be concerned he is not competent and needs a proxy medically. Are you the proxy? I would ask about a home health nurse to come and talk to him. He needs his heart meds! Or have him fill out a form on his wishes (in my state it is a MOLST).

One of my kids was hit by a car by an inattentive driver. Please take action if your father's driving is dangerous.

Uber has a new service called GoGranny. The elderly are a population that needs Uber and Lyft once the car is gone, and they really can get around if they agree to it, though it sounds like your Dad won't. My mother didn't either.




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