Taking the car away

Carol B

Registered User
Apr 21, 2006
I would like some advice about when a car has been taken away from someone assessed as not being able to drive but still thinks they can drive very well. does anyone know if the person finds it easier to accept after a period of time or any suggestions as to what you can say to the person


Registered User
Mar 24, 2006
Co Durham

Dear Carol,
I learned to drive in 1968 and all was well until 2003 when I realised that there was something wrong with me. I decided that even though I needed to drive for my job as I was on call 24 hours a day as a College Engineer and my family relied on my that I was not going to risk killing or injuring someone else. I understood that my brain seemed to switch off for some reason but it took nearly 12 months of going to the doctors before they admitted that I had an Alzheimers related illness. I found that during this time no one would give me any advise about driving or giving it up. All I was told in the end was it is up to the person concerned whether they give up or not. It was not easy to give up as it put my job on the line and it meant an end to years of caravaning but The more I think about it I wonder how I would feel if I had carried on driving and then went on to cause someone serious or fatal injury. I suppose it is down to the person who has the illness as to what they do, but I feel it would be better if the Doctors got off the fence and advised patients. It is not an easy thing to consider but all we can do is try to consider all the options available to us these days and think about what could go wrong. I think most of us have at some time to think about this. My wife had a serious road accident in the 1980s through no fault of her own, and this resulted in quite a lot of operations over two years and left her unable to drive long distances, so life can be very difficult, but we have to decide what we think is best all round.
Good luck and best wishes.
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Registered User
Apr 17, 2006
Carol B said:
I would like some advice about when a car has been taken away from someone assessed as not being able to drive but still thinks they can drive very well. does anyone know if the person finds it easier to accept after a period of time or any suggestions as to what you can say to the person

Dear Carol

We had this problem with my father who was driving up until a couple of months ago. He's 86 now, so thankfully he realised he couldn't go on for ever.

It must be tough because I know - being a keen driver myself - that if you have petrol running through your veins (and in my case a diesel mix!) rather than blood that I think I would feel the end of the world had arrived. It symbolises a true lack of independence, doesn't it, when you are no longer able to travel at your own will, but must wait for others to take you.

My mother was a different kettle of poissons. She was 80 and perfectly epitomised the saying 'Keep death off the roads; drive on the pavement' when she got an electric wheelchair to replace her Mini. But she was physically disabled, and didn't suffer from Alzheimer's.

I think the only thing you can do is to deeply sympathize with them, and to say to them that other people have made the decision for them rather than wait until they kill someone. It's a hard decision that probably wasn't taken lightly, and ask them if that decision hadn't been made for them, how would they feel if they did cause an accident which resulted in loss of life, disfigurement, or disability for someone else....it would be very hard for most conscientious people to live with, I think.

You ask whether a person adapts after a period of time. My father took up things to keep himself busy. His AD isn't too bad at the moment, but after he increasingly couldn't remember where he'd left the car in car parks - or the car parks themselves for that matter, he went back to concentrating on the Stock Market, which keeps his interest sharp. He also does crossword puzzles and jigsaw puzzles. He reads a lot, so I made sure he has loads of short stories to read - the Reader's Digest is good for this (although once they know where you live it's like trying to escape from the Mafia with regard to junk mail!). He enjoys a good laugh as well, so we bought him a cheap and easy to operate DVD player and take some of our funnier films down for him, and DVDs of shows like Ronnie Barker's 'Clarence', 'Yes, Minister', etc.

He doesn't miss driving as much as he thought he would do, he says, and I think this is mainly because he is kept busy. It's like anything - nature abhors a vacuum, so it's a question of filling that vacuum with something enjoyable - perhaps not so much what you say, but what you do.


Tender Face

Account Closed
Mar 14, 2006
NW England
Hi Carol!

My dad was adamant he was perfectly fit to drive when he so clearly was not! I see it now as his ‘last bastion’ – he loved his work and had been forced into a premature retirement and his car was the last company car he had (‘gifted’ to him by his boss).

There was much, much more to it than simply ‘losing the ability’ to drive….. it reinforced his early loss of his working life.. Ken I absolutely ‘hear you’ and congratulate you… My dad, did not have the ability to recognise that he WAS a danger to others as well as himself and it came to the point ‘we’ had to get tough with him. (‘We’ being mum and I – she would ring me crying ‘Your dad’s taken the car out again….. in absolute panic ‘til he returned from his trip round the block just to ‘prove’ he was still able).

We were able to make the ‘parting’ a two-stage process. Initially, we ‘took’ the car and became ‘chauffeurs’ - any trip with dad was in his car – even if dad couldn’t drive it himself, he still ‘owned it’ – we felt like we were ‘babysitting’ it for him! He’d even inspect it to make sure we cleaned it properly!

When beloved car couldn’t pass a garage without us chucking money at a mechanic dad agreed it was time for it to go… by then, he had reconciled to his inability to drive and it didn’t seem such a huge loss ‘all in one go’.

It may not be a practical solution for everyone, but just an idea for anyone in similar circumstances……

Good luck! Tender Face

gerrie ley

Registered User
Apr 10, 2006
bradford yorkshire

You must stop them driving alzheimers doesnt take prisoners my wife was diagnosed with alzheimers we reported it to the DVLA they said carry on driving for the time being. Our consultant was in dismay I took her out on the road with her consent and knowledge of what was going to happen I put her through an emergency stop which she failed and went to pieces. At this point my wife (said bless her) I didnt know what to do I cant be trusted I could have maimed someone or something Try this on your loved one and carry on from there good luck


Registered User
Apr 16, 2006
When to stop driving

I have only recently entered this new world of dementia, fighting with doctors and not quite understanding what is happening to my Mum. At this moment in time I have hidden her car keys and am letting her think she has mislaid them. This may seem a bit cruel but after spending the most of my week trying to track down what insurance company she is with , because she has lost all the paper work I sorted out weeks ago.to get the new tax disk I have not had enough energy left to worry about her driving the car as well.


Registered User
Mar 7, 2004
Dear Panda, welcome to TP

Yes it is a minefield out there, especially in respect of driving.

I can offer no special advice. In our case I had stopped Lionel driving some 18 months before he was diagnosed. I realised he had problems, but his spatial awareness was the first thing to go.

My advice would be to do whatever you feel right. Personally, I don't feel any one with a "problem" should be driving, full stop. After all, you cannot ever turn the clock back.

Only my opinion, of course. Connie


Registered User
Apr 21, 2006
Kendal, Cumbria
Hi Carol

I have just joined talking point but in the past have had to deal with trying to stop my father from driving. After being admitted to hospital for a urine infection the consultant advised Dad and myself that he should stop driving. Family had been concerned about his driving for some time and it was a relief to be told that he should'nt be driving.

On leaving hospital Dad said there was nothing the matter with him now and he was not giving up driving. I contacted the GP and he declined to advise. I contacted the DVLA and all they did was write to Dad asking if there was a problem and did he feel he should stop driving. Of course the letter went in the bin.

I then wrote a long letter to the Consultant Psychiatrist who eventually referred him for a driving assessment which he subsequently failed on 8 counts. All this took a lengh of time, during which my mother had to hide the keys. On one occasion he found the keys and nipped along to the village petrol station where he managed to crash the car into a large wheelie bin full of barbecue coal doing £1000 of damage to the car. Fortunately no one was hurt.

12 months later he still insists he should be driving and we have purchased a key safe with a numeric code for my mother to keep the keys in.

There seems to be no easy way to dissuade some people from driving, but the consequences of allowing them to do so is frightening.

Have you tried parking the car away from the home?
Is it possible to sell the car?

I hope you can resolve this tricky problem



Registered User
Jul 15, 2005
Hi Carol,
My mom is in late stage AD and hasn't driven in almost four years but every once and awhile she will decide that is her Jeep and where are the keys because she is going somewhere. She gets so angry when we tell her she doesn't and shouldn't drive. There is no arguing with her about it and she can get very biligerant. It is a matter of contention with her, I think if we handed her the keys she would look at them and not know what to do with them. I tell her the doctor said she cannot drive. She ask why and how come noone told her, which of corse has been told to her many times. She won't acknowledge and cannot remember that she has AD so I tell her it is her macular degeneration that is preventing her from driving.....she forgets that too but it is easier than arguing with her about her dimentia. After she really gets angry and crosses those little arms in obstinance, I tell her, "ok, lets go to the license bureau and you can take a driving test, if you pass, you can drive." She always says ok, then I say, lets go now and she says, oh I don't feel like it right now.
In her mind she just drove over to my house, has never had an accident and how come we're so mean not to let her drive. Then, we do it all over again when she takes another yen to drive. Such is AD.
Good luck and let us know how it is going.

Carol B

Registered User
Apr 21, 2006
Thanks for all the info. I actually work for an Alzheimers organisation in New Zealand and I think this forum is wonderful to get information especially in areas that are so difficult and that there are no answers to.

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