Manchester Manor Blog
Unsafe senior driving is a serious issue. So, when you see warning signs that your parent or spouse is no longer safe behind the wheel, you have to get them to stop. But some older adults stubbornly refuse to give up the keys. You might have already done everything you can think of. Things like holding repeated conversations to ask them to stop or showing proof that they’re no longer safe drivers. Perhaps you have called a family meeting so it’s not just coming from you. Maybe you have tried reassuring them that they’ll still be able to go out. Even after all that, they still might refuse to give up their keys.
Don’t Feel Guilty
These methods might make you feel like you’re betraying them or being the “bad guy.” But what you’re really doing is protecting their safety and that of other drivers and nearby pedestrians.
Here are 8 ways to stop an elderly person from driving.
Anonymously Report Them to the DMV
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) allows people to report unsafe drivers, often anonymously. You don’t have to be a doctor. Anyone can file a report. The benefit is that your older adult won’t blame you for taking their license away. Instead, they’ll be angry with the DMV. Each state’s DMV has different procedures. Typically, when someone is reported as an unsafe driver, they’re called in for a driver’s license retest regardless of when their license expires. Contact your local DMV to find out what is needed in your state to request a retest. If you don’t feel comfortable filing a DMV report, speak confidentially with their doctor and share your concerns. Ask the doctor to write a letter that you can take to the DMV. Remember the Impact of Alzheimer’s and Other Forms of Dementia Alzheimer’s or dementia can cause seniors to become irrational and stubborn about driving. In these situations, an effective strategy is to remove the car and any reminders of driving. At the same time, creatively distract them from the topic until they forget about driving altogether. This approach spares them from angry confrontations or getting depressed about not being allowed to drive.
Have a Relative or Close Friend “Borrow” the Car
If your older adult’s car isn’t in the garage, they won’t be able to drive it. To keep them from getting suspicious, you could arrange for a relative or close friend to borrow the car. For example, the relative could pretend that their own car is in the shop for major repairs. If it’s a young relative, they could say they need a car for school or a job. When the car is out of sight or unavailable for a good reason, your older adult may be more willing to give up driving. You don’t have to actually give the car away, that’s just a cover story to get the car out of their sight. After that, it’s your decision to keep, sell, or give away the car.
Hide or “Lose” the Car Keys
Another way to keep your older adult from driving is to hide the car keys or pretend they’re lost. It’s best to do this while they’re asleep so they won’t suspect that you’ve taken them. If they ask you where the keys are, pretend that you have no idea. You could even help them look and after searching the house, declare the keys hopelessly lost. Say that you’ll get a new set, but it could take a while.
Take the Car for Repairs
Pretending that the car is having a problem is another effective method. Tell your older adult that the car is at the auto shop for repairs. This gets the car away from the house, similar to having a relative borrow it. Your senior may ask why the car has been in the shop for so long. Be prepared to say something like a repair part hasn’t arrived yet or the repairs cost more than the car is worth. You can also claim that the mechanic says the car can’t be fixed.
Disable the Car
A good way to prevent someone from driving is to disable their car. Do something simple like unplugging the battery or locking the steering wheel with a “Club.” Even if they managed to get the keys, they still wouldn’t be able to drive a disabled car.
Sell the Car
Selling their car is another way of making sure your older adult can no longer drive. Make up a story for why this is necessary. For example, you might say that a close relative needs money and this is the only way to help. You don’t have to actually sell the car if you don’t want to, but this is another way to get it out of sight for a seemingly legitimate reason.
Hide Your Own Car and Keys
If your car is still available, your older adult might try to take your keys and drive your car. If that’s happening, make sure to hide your own keys and park your car out of their sight. Whenever you need to go out, you can say that a friend is giving you a ride or that you’re taking public transportation.
Here’s the Bottom Line
If your older adult refuses to stop driving, you might be forced to use these methods. They might seem extreme, but they’re effective. Many seniors give up the fight when their driver’s license is revoked. Others will give up the fight after you use some of these creative ways to get rid of or disable their car.
If your aging parents need help to stay safe and healthy, you’re probably feeling unsure about what to do. Figuring out their needs, understanding the options and making decisions can feel overwhelming.
Focusing on something concrete helps you feel more in control of the situation. Use these seven steps to turn the shapeless problem of “caring for my parent” into an actionable plan to help mom or dad be as healthy and happy as possible.
Assess Your Aging Parent’s Needs
Caring for a parent can feel overwhelming because you’re not sure exactly what needs to be done. To solve that problem, take a step back to understand how much help your parent needs with everyday life.
Think about 8 key areas: family support; home safety; medical needs; cognitive health; mobility; personal hygiene; meal preparation; social interaction.
How much support are they already getting in each category and how much help do they realistically need to stay safe and healthy? Write everything down in a caregiving notebook so you can keep track of their needs and figure out what services are needed. In-home caregiving help is an option whether you hire privately or go through a home care agency. Hired caregivers take care of seniors in their home. If your parent isn’t able to live on their own or needs 24/7 care, assisted living and other senior housing options might be the right choice. Geriatricians (geriatric doctors) specialize in caring for seniors and have more experience treating people with multiple chronic health conditions, dementia and other conditions that primarily affect older adults
When older adults have hearing loss, using the phone can become nearly impossible. The telephone is an important source of safety and social connection, so this makes caregivers understandably worried.
If you’ve noticed that your older adult has been avoiding talking on the phone, it could be due to hearing loss.
Keeping connected is important for health
Helping older adults with hearing loss use the phone gives them a safety line and helps them connect with family and friends, improving their mental and physical health. We found a phone that solves this problem. It’s a caption phone, which means the live phone conversation shows up in easy-to-read text on a large screen. It works like a regular telephone, just dial and answer calls as usual. Speak and listen using the phone handset like always.
Even better, the phone and caption service is free because it’s paid for by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
How seniors can get a free caption phone
The CaptionCall® captioned telephone is free for those who have professionally certified hearing loss. Before you order, make sure your older adult has:
- Medically-recognized hearing loss
- High-speed internet connection
- Standard home phone connection
- Standard electrical outlet
This caption phone is great for older adults with hearing loss that affects their ability to use a standard telephone. It gives them a lifeline in case they need help and keeps them connected to family and friends.
If you have questions about the phone, want to know if your older adult qualifies, or aren’t sure about the installation process, call 1-877-557-2227. We found their customer support representatives to be friendly and helpful.
Amazing advice from the elderly
- Stop worrying so much.
- In relationships, sweat the small stuff.
- Don’t sacrifice your relationship for your children.
- People who share core values typically have better marriages.
- Communicate early, communicate often.
- Approach marriage as a discipline.
- Take time to craft the story of your life.
It’s so critical for older people to record their memories. I think that we place young people in peril without these kind of intergenerational contacts. This is something that’s so natural for the human race. It’s really only been about the last hundred years that people have gone to anyone other than the oldest person they knew for advice about something, say like marriage or childrearing.
Even though it sounds artificial, it’s important for older people to record their own thoughts and memories, but it’s really critical for younger people to ask them for them, and not just for stories, but for guidance and practical advice for living. I’m not against professional help. I think it’s great. But sometimes people might go and ask the elders in their lives for advice on finding a meaningful career or improving a relationship first.
So I think that it’s both older people doing it themselves, nurturing these memories and reflecting on their lives, but it’s also our role as younger people to help them to do it, to express interest in it and be a part of their reminiscing and summing up their life into a meaningful story. That’s what we really risk losing now.
It can be a difficult moment when you come to realize that your mom or dad needs senior care in a setting like assisted living. Just as our parents kept us safe, sheltered and secure when we needed it – there comes a time when we’re called upon to return this same love to our parents.
Some of us will provide care to our parents in our own home for a period, but this is not always possible for all families, or always desired by the children or parents themselves. Many families find themselves searching for assisted living, an intermediate level of residential care for seniors who aren’t safe living alone. Ideally, your parents can be full participants in the search, but when your loved one is impaired by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, you may have to proactively take more control of the decision-making.
If you see that your parents need assisted living care, here are some steps that can help you find the right care:
- Get Them involved
- Determine what you can afford
- Speak with a Senior Living Advisor
- Tour Senior Communities
Assisted living depends on the professionals in each community. The good and forward-thinking providers and companies have created senior condo-like settings where care is provided discreetly, on a resident’s own schedule, inside their own apartment or home, and by consistent staff. Daily schedules are different for each resident and should be, as they are catered to individual needs. That alone shows how the trend in care has shifted to each individual. A regional sales representative discusses these changes: “An example of how assisted living has evolved over the years would be that I have eleven events planned for today in one location.”
Activities of Daily Living (ADLs):
- Using the toilet independently
- Walking and getting around
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLS):
- House Cleaning and Chores
- Meal Preparation
- Using the Telephone
In assisted living, many of the IADLS are handled by either the community or a relative of the resident. Each community has their own system, so it’s important to find the options that work for each family’s unique situation. Care professionals become like family for the residents and they come to rely on them for their daily activities, whether it’s dressing them, helping them shower, or simply bringing them the right types of meals or newspaper articles for their morning routines. Staff at communities become a part of each resident’s life. They can even become family who are missed if they’re on vacation or leave.
In most states there is better, cleaner, operational regulation and more adept staff training requirements. There has been a huge shift in the consumer. Families and seniors themselves are more comfortable with senior care communities as a clear method to potentially postponing nursing home care, which was not the case, years ago. There was a huge stigma about nursing homes and senior care of the past, which has definitely started to diminish. The concept of resort-style living is becoming more attractive to active seniors. A really nice shift has been a decrease in the level of skepticism, and increase in the trust. To run a community or to discuss multiple care communities to families before they visit have become more friendly events.
Today there is also a plethora of activities and amenities, in addition to state-of-the art care from medical and therapist professionals, including:
- Barber and beautician services
- Book groups
- Dining and food services
- Gardening clubs
- Housekeeping and laundering services
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Scheduled transportation services to outings outside of community
- Theater outings
- Wellness and physical fitness, catered to individual needs, including:
- Catered fitness regimes
- Water aerobics
It’s important to consider whether your loved one would want to participate in the events and amenities in the community, if their basic needs are met. After all, unless the senior is suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, the mind of a 90-year old in assisted living hasn’t aged; just the body has. ALFA discusses more of the assisted living services and amenities offered in today’s world of senior care.
Many people are unclear of what life in assisted living is like these days; especially if they have predisposed notions that communities are synonymous with institutional nursing homes of the past. Families may not be entirely clear about what an assisted living community means especially in today’s world with state-of-the-art amenities, chef-inspired cuisine, occupational and physical therapy, field trip outings and most important; a staff of expertly trained professionals who care for residents.
Many families are deeply affected by their elderly loved ones’ transitions to assisted living. It’s not only a highly emotional time, but also a time when decisions are expedited for quick moves resulting from declining health. A Place for Mom expert and geriatrician, Leslie Kernisan, MD, provides insight to help families going through this emotional turmoil. She comments:
“I have seen some older adults really blossom in assisted living, mainly because assisted living often provides a lot more social activity — and even a family — for those who were lonely and even somewhat isolated in their home environment. This is especially true of older adults who had previously been having difficulty leaving home due to physical or cognitive limitations. Assisted living’s medication management services can also be very helpful, and sometimes I see seniors improve a lot medically simply because they begin taking their medications consistently.
It’s important for families to visit and get a feel for a community to see whether it’s a good fit for their loved one’s personality and level-of-care needed. It’s not the amenities, it’s the emotional and expertise that’s important. Communities are also looking at ways to improve not just providing good care, but also exceeding customer service expectations and improving the lives of seniors through research and advocacy means.”
Assisted living continues to evolve, but it’s very important to do your research and find the right assisted living community for your specific situation.