Pull the Keys


Pull the Keys

keys-233368_640“This could be an ideal time to pull the keys,” said my cousin, a doctor, whom we’re visiting right now.

“How did she seem to you yesterday?” I asked. (She had stayed with my cousin and his wife while my husband and son and I went to an amusement park.)

“I’m worried about her memory,” he said, along with a bunch of other things. I told him her doctor had noted “mild cognitive impairment” and he said, “That’s exactly what I would say. But you want to pull the keys before she has an accident. And the fact that she hasn’t been driving since the accident makes this an ideal time.”

But how do I do it? How do I tell her she can never drive again with hurting her and hurting our relationship? How do I make her face the fact that she is probably in the early stages of dementia? This is my mother, a person I love and want to make happy! And I need her to be happy with me too. How can I lose my own need for my mom’s approval?

Am I strong enough to tell her she can never drive again? Can I keep waiting? I wish someone else could take this decision – and action – away from me.

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When my mom was unable to drive anymore it was hard for her. But luckily I was able to hide behind the new van not being able to accommodate her wheelchair at the steering wheel. She didn't want to give up, so had contacted a place that could let her test drive different types of things and assess her ability to drive safe. It didn't go any further than their assessment saying that she no longer had the proper strength to be a safe driver. It wasn't me she believed, and it wasn't me to make the final judgement. She has missed it ever since, but still enjoyed the rides even from the passenger side. It sounds to me like you have a good plan.


Hi, LilMagill. I sure don't have much new insight to add to this vast array. I just started driving mom around when I took over her full-time caregiving. Driving in South Florida takes all my attention and then some, so I could only guess what it would be like for her. She eventually hopped in her car and backed into my daughter's car when it was parked in the driveway. No one got hurt but my mom's pocketbook got hurt when she had to pay for everything. And now she doesn't remember why she's not driving anyway. Maybe your mom will forget in time the painful things you most fear. Good luck.


Thank you all so much for the advice and sympathy. When I talked with my cousin and his wife (also a doctor!) this morning, they talked about a memory clinic where they live that will also do driving assessments. We don't seem to have that in my town (memory clinic yes but not driving test), but I'm planning to see Mom's doctor as soon as I can and ask if she can refer her for both memory assessment and driving assessment. If it could come from someone besides me, it would be great! Although my mom is generally sweet and cooperative, she doesn't see me an an authority and can be pretty stubborn about some things. I think it's more likely she would accept the word of a doctor over my opinion.


I agree with Denise, and we did let the Doctor be the Bad Guy when the keys needed to be taken from Grandpa. I had already been allowed to be his \"chauffeur\" - I was his favorite Grandchild :) We did transition to me being lifetime chauffeur with little difficulty after the Doctor talked to him and filled out some paperwork. On the other hand,,, my church friend had to go in to the DMV for some kind of inquisition a couple of years after her stroke and she proved to them that she was able to drive - took a Dr. note, the written tests and Driving Test, passing with flying colors!! Sometimes just going through the evaluation will help make the decision. I wish you well, my friend!


Hi LM--Your cousin is a blessing. :) He's also modeled how to break difficult news. It sounds like he shared his concerns and the truth with you. I think that's the best way to talk this through with your mom.\r\n\r\nThink of it this way: What if your cousin had spoken to your husband and asked your husband to share his concerns with you? It probably wouldn't have sat well with you that he didn't speak directly with you. \r\n\r\nSharing the truth with your mom is really difficult and stressful. It's also an important moment for both of you. Just as you are strong enough to hear the news from your cousin, you are strong enough to tell your mom. She will be upset. She may be upset for longer than you think you can bear. And, you both will keep going. You can give her the space she needs to be sad and upset, sharing comforting words along the way. You can tell her, \"I know how upsetting this is, Mom. I would be upset, too. I'm grateful we can talk about something as difficult as this. Together, we can get through this.\" You also can share that you can't, with good conscience, put her safety or the well-being of others on the road in jeopardy.\r\n\r\nIf she really battles you on this, then I think it's a great idea to bring in her doctor, who can back up your decision. If she forgets that you've told her that she can no longer drive, then we'll brainstorm ways to redirect her so you don't go crazy by continuing to break bad news to her.\r\n\r\nI hope my thoughts help. Please continue to keep us posted on this. It's a tough one. It's also just really sad for both of you.

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