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How do you persuade an elderly relative it's time to stop driving?

(57 Posts)
jackypat Fri 15-Jan-16 10:18:52

My mother is 82 she is fiercely independent and still driving. As one of her three daughters I and my sisters are too frightened to be in the car when she drives. We have all suffered near misses, driving too fast, wandering out of her lane etc. She would be mortified if she hurt anybody. My father is unable to drive any more because of his sight and is anxious about her driving too. Last year she had hip and knee replacements and I taxied them around and friends helped with lifts so they know they can function without a car. Help please! Have you had this job to do or have you been the recipient of a request to stop driving?

Cher53 Fri 15-Jan-16 10:31:24

Although I haven't had the experience of this, you really need yourself and your sisters (if possible) to sit down and have a serious talk with your mum. If she really won't listen, refuse to get in the car with her (drastic I know, but it will be even more drastic if she kills someone). I do not know if it is a possibility to approach your mum's doctor?

Perhaps other Gransnetters can advise or have experience of this? As I said these suggestions are what I would try.

gillybob Fri 15-Jan-16 10:46:05

My late FiL would not stop riding his motorbike and he was well into his 80's and quite feeble. No matter what we said, or threatened he would just take it out. He was really quite dangerous to other road users. It wasn't until the bike fell on him and he lay there for over an hour with it on top of him, unable to get out from underneath, that he finally realized enough was enough.

So maybe it might take a little scare (nothing serious I hope) to make your mum realize that her driving days might be over jackypat ?

EllenT Fri 15-Jan-16 10:58:47

Had the same issue with my late Mum in her mid-eighties. We as family tried to persuade her to stop, including refusing to travel with her, with no success. It took an incident where a concerned stranger noticed the erratic driving and kindly accompanied her home before she finally acknowledged the time had come. (I live at the other end of the country and only knew about this when the Good Samaritan phoned me.) So, jackypat, perhaps a word from a friend or a doctor or someone else outside the family might do the trick.

annodomini Fri 15-Jan-16 11:06:48

If her driving is so erratic, it might indicate failing eyesight. Does she have regular eye tests? If there is a problem, she might have her licence revoked, as happened to my uncle, who was then 85, when cataracts were diagnosed.

Nelliemoser Fri 15-Jan-16 11:11:49

My friend eventually had to take her dad's car keys home with her as his dementia made him unsafe.
He was really angry and gave her very hard time.

i would suggest making an appointment with his GP and explaining your concerns, put it in writing as well. I am sure the GP, if has been informed that his patient is possibly unfit to drive, has some responsibility to ensure public safety.

harrigran Fri 15-Jan-16 11:27:28

My aunt was 83 and had terminal cancer, she sometimes had seizures, she would get in her car and turn up at relative's homes. GP would advise her but could not physically stop her, in the end one of her nieces locked the car in the garage and took away the ignition and garage keys. To say she was furious was an understatement but needs must, if she had injured someone it would have been horrendous.

kittylester Fri 15-Jan-16 11:41:33

Steal the key? Report her to DVLA?

Shinyredcar Fri 15-Jan-16 12:04:23

What a nest of vipers this problem is! My DH had a very powerful car and drove it in a terrifying way, either too fast or too slow. It was sporty and that annoyed all the young drivers so he was beset by bullies and would respond angrily. I was terrified and offered to drive my car everywhere. He never got the idea of roundabouts, or pedestrian controlled crossings.

I saw his GP. I wrote to the DVLA. The law seems to be that people have to refer themselves to the DVLA. Doctors won't, unless the person has had a recent stroke or TIA, when they have to stop driving for a month. They say it would destroy the patient's confidence in them and might stop people telling them about symptoms.

I have known of people paying thousands of pounds to repair damage to other drivers' cars, to avoid telling their insurance company.

There are courses and informal tests available in a lot of places, and perhaps saying, 'go on, prove us all wrong, do one of these courses!' might work to encourage some to take one. DH was frustrated that my DF was still driving at 92, utterly safely, while he was only 75 and the family were all complaining. It is this variability that is the problem.

In more rural areas there are no buses as an alternative way to get around and often families are at work or live too far away to be of help. Taxis are expensive, but selling a car and not paying insurance, car tax, and maintenance saves a lot of money, so taxis could be afforded.

It robs independence, and often in older households it takes away the last function the 'man-of-the-house' has. Of course they fight against losing their car. But it is a lethal weapon and we all feel the responsibility to the rest of the community to stop someone who is a danger from getting behind the wheel.

Perhaps we should start one of those Downing Street petitions as Gransnetters, to get the law changed so that anyone can report someone to the DVLA or police. Perhaps insurers could do it if someone had too many claims?

I hope someone will tell me if they ever get worried about my driving. I'd stop in an instant, in case I hurt someone.

annsixty Fri 15-Jan-16 12:23:24

I was the one who told my H I wouldn't allow him to drive anymore when hie Alzheimer's started progressing. He wasn't happy and it has made life very difficult for us but at least I have peace of mind.

aggie Fri 15-Jan-16 12:30:36

I hid OHs car keys , he found the spares and I had a very anxious half hour till he came home , then the friend he had visited rang to ask if he was ok and that got it through to him and we have now sold the car . I should have done it sooner , it seems the car was in need of a lot of body work from various bumps !!

downtoearth Fri 15-Jan-16 12:55:52

I am the tribal elder OH is 20 years younger,wonder what he will say to me when its time to hang up my car keys hmm

Elrel Fri 15-Jan-16 13:28:48

Jackypat - Opticians tell clients when their eyesight prohibits driving. Has your mother had an eye test recently, if not can you persuade her to have one?

HildaW Fri 15-Jan-16 13:30:59

Some areas run older driver assessment sessions and courses to 'increase confidence' try citizen's advise or local police.

Elrel Fri 15-Jan-16 13:32:04

Annodomini - sorry, I've just noticed that you've already suggested seeing an optician.

Stansgran Fri 15-Jan-16 13:36:16

I haven't been driving for a while as I had a hip replacement at the end of last year. I am being pressed by DH to start driving again but I want to do a refresher course without him in the carsmile an elderly neighbour knocked someone over saying the sun was in their eyes and protested her innocence up to a court case. I think there is a mindset which IMO is arrogance as much as a desire for independence.

granjura Fri 15-Jan-16 13:46:00

The hardest thing to do, but yes ask support from GP, and if needed ask police or DVLA for help too. You'd never forgive yourself if there was an accident, especially injuring or worse a child, etc. My mum only stopped when she ended up in a field- for the umpteen time having passed out at the wheel. My dad when he hit a lamp-post and demolished his car - he went to buy another car the next day, couldn't handle it, and then gave up. OH's dad was told not to drive, but continued to do so for many years until he died.

Yes, it is robbing them of their independence- but it may well save lives. Tough that. Just a shiny, I would stop immediatel if I felt I may hurt someone.

jackypat Fri 15-Jan-16 17:08:44

Thank you for all your advice gransnetters. She has good eyesight and health.
I found a website that includes videos useful to the driver and people trying to persuade elderly drivers to stop. There is a link on it for a driving assessment which mum has agreed to complete.

If it is useful to anyone else, this is it

LullyDully Fri 15-Jan-16 17:13:49

Sadly there does come a time to stop driving. My Dad was well in his 80s and not safe. He went round a corner once with Mum and me in the car. They then chuntered on about how awful young drivers were to my horror.

Dad had been driving since the 1920s and never taken a test. He had always been safe, but had lost his distance judgement. He was a real danger.

We had a very sticky chat with him which he resented. But he gave up driving and gave the car to my then teenage son. ( not keen on his driving either. )

It gave them a few good years, not to mention the local populace!

Bull by the horns time Jacky for the safety of everyone.

annodomini Fri 15-Jan-16 18:03:46

My DSs and probably Senior GD will undoubtedly tell me when I should stop driving. I hope it isn't too soon though! Having said that, we have all, with the exception of GD, been obliged to attend a speed awareness course, having been caught on camera.

tiggypiro Fri 15-Jan-16 18:29:09

My cousin told his mum that the car needed work, took it away and never took it back. He was in her bad books for some time but was eventually forgiven. What about removing a plug or disconnecting something to stop the car working ?
A friend who has early Alzheimers was reported to the police for erratic driving (and not before time) and had to take a driving test which she failed with ease.

Humbertbear Sat 16-Jan-16 09:38:49

My brother in law simply took the car keys away from his 83 year old father who had become so dangerous that the whole village was trying to stay home when he went out in his car.
To avoid this happening to us we have given our daughter permission to tell us we need to stop driving when the time comes but we rather hope it won't be for many years to come.

Fran0251 Sat 16-Jan-16 09:42:20

I know a family where the member living with the elder person disabled the car and the family in Australia wouldn't speak to her again. Solution is to agree with all the family and then do what others have done and lock up the car or disable it. Australian family then invited elderly father to live with them and learnt the truth. Good luck to you JackyPat.

loopyloo Sat 16-Jan-16 09:52:25

With my brother who was 83 and adamant about continuing to drive, I emailed the DVLA with my concerns. His GP was contacted and said he was OK, but he had 2 speeding fines in 3 months despite a speed awareness course. Eventually he was called for a driving assessment and failed easily. Do contact the DVLA with your concerns.Nothing happens quickly but you might be saving lives.

Hunt Sat 16-Jan-16 09:57:35

Sit down with your relative and point out the financial advantages in giving up the car and taking taxis. We have never had a car and rely on our lovely local taxi firm to cover all our driving needs. You have to be bold and bite the bullet when the bill comes to ,say, £ 80 or more but do the sums and over the year you will spend less than the cost of running a car.People look at you in disbelief but it is in fact true.