"You can't drive any more!"


Registered User
May 26, 2008
Sorry if this has been covered many times before, I'm sure that it must have but this is my first message and I am looking for some advice to help my wife deal with her mother's growing difficulties.
My mother-in-law is in her eighties and has quite suddenly started to deteriorate. She has become very vague and forgetful, she sits staring at the floor when she used to read constantly. Her friend says she has completely changed and has stopped communicating when they socialise. What is most concerning is she went missing one day last week (she lives on her own) and eventually returned to her home in her car with no recollection of where she had been. A few days ago she took her friend out and had a minor accident, hitting a traffic island, damaging her wheel and puncturing the front tyre. She drove home like this and when asked about the damage she had no recollection of the journey or hitting anything.
My wife has made an appointment for her to see her doctor this week for an unrelated problem and wants to take the opportunity for the doctor to assess her mother.
We desperately want her to stop driving but dare not even mention she seems ill. She will be seriously upset if we made her stop driving and is constantly asking for someone to fix her car. We are worried she might run someone over! Short of hiding her car keys we don't know how to stop her getting back onto the road.
I'm sorry this has gone on a bit, but not being able to drive anymore will be such a blow, do we just come out and tell her she has to stop, or should we ask the doctor to give her the bad news?


Registered User
May 26, 2008

my granda has had alzheimers for about 3 years and one of the main signs for us was his driving. He has drove since such a young age (he is 78 now)he would drive me home and half way he would ask where he was going again, this just got worse until one day driving my sister home he just rove into someones conservatory! he was lucky he didnt kill himself. he either fwll asleep at the wheel or just didnt know where he was driving! in this case the police were involved and they said he had to stop driving and they contacted dvla! he talks about driving all the time and even offers me a lift when im at his house but he has never attempted to look for his car (which is scrapped now anyway)


Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
SW Scotland
Hi Newlander, welcome to TP.

You don't say if your mil has had a diagnosis, or if you are just going on your own suspicions?

It she hasn't had a diagnosis, I suggest your wife write to the doc and explain your worries. This will give him the opportunity to assess your mil without your wife having to go into details in front of her.

I'd also say in the letter that you'd like a referral to a consultant for assessment.

Regarding the driving, you're right to be worried. You could ask the doc to write to DVLA, or you could simply ring them yourself. I don't know how much notic they'd take though without a diagnosis, though someone else may have experience of this. If you ring them, they won't tell mil who has reported her.

Good luck, and let us know how you get on.


Registered User
Mar 23, 2005
Hi Newlander,

Welcome to Talking Point (TP)

My wife has made an appointment for her to see her doctor this week for an unrelated problem and wants to take the opportunity for the doctor to assess her mother.
This is a good place to start. I would advise your wife to write the GP a letter in advance outlining her concerns, along with as many specific examples as possible. Will your wife be accompanying her mother to the appointment?

We desperately want her to stop driving but dare not even mention she seems ill. She will be seriously upset if we made her stop driving and is constantly asking for someone to fix her car. We are worried she might run someone over! Short of hiding her car keys we don't know how to stop her getting back onto the road.
I'm sorry, but you will have to eventually raise the issue of your concerns about your MIL's health with her, driving or no driving. She may well become defensive, hurt, angry, evasive, dismisive, etc., but it will need to be done.

As to the practicalities of stopping her from driving - it sounds like you have already hit on a temporary answer in delaying the repairs to the car. Get used to the art of little white lies, they will be essential in future.

There is a serious issue of road safety and details of the recent accident should be reported to her insurers. Any changes in her health that affect her fitness to drive should also be reported.

Her GP may or may not be that swift to act as it may take some time to evaluate her condition fully.

You might want to take a look at the Alzheimer's Society factsheet on driving:


Also this post might be useful:


Finally, using the search function:


you can probably find many previous discusions if you search on driving or DVLA.

Take care,



Registered User
Jul 10, 2006
south lanarkshire
Hi Newlander


The first time Dad saw the consultant, he told him he couldn't drive again. Hard though this is, it was far safer, for everyone.

If your MIL hasn't been told to stop driving yet, could you disable her car, so that it won't start?

Then remove it to the garage to be "mended" Never to be returned.
Hopefully she WILL forget about it and you can weather the storm of her not havving a car:rolleyes: Difficult, I know, but much safer in the long run.

Best of luck


Registered User
May 13, 2008
Portsmouth, England
Hello Newlander - we have had the same problem with my 86 year old father who was sure he was still a 'good' driver and really enjoyed driving. His ancient Volvo car had a flat battery which we put off replacing for a couple of months so he could get used to not having the car available, during that time he walked to the shops and if he needed to go further I would take him. While I was driving I would point out to him the problems of navigating road works and busy traffic. Eventually he agreed that he would find it very difficult to manage driving again and has now given his car to my daughter in law which really pleased him - I dont think he would have been happy to sell it to a 'stranger'! Good luck!! Sue


Registered User
May 24, 2006
This posting is a re run of the issues with my Mother

The best way to stop them driving is to inform the DVLA

They will send an 8 page questionaire and IMHE which will get filled in with nonsense by the patient and either the DVLA will immediately revoke the licence or they will arrange an assesment

Either way she cannot be allowed to continue driving for everyones safety


Registered User
Jul 16, 2007
Ah Driving - how difficult a subject. It is in my experience one of the most difficult to deal with however on diagnosis it should be made clear to your mil that she has to declare her condition to DVLA and insurers.My hubbie now has his licence renewed annually but it is still something that occupies his mind constantly. I am afraid that white lies are the way to go to protect her and others. Not nice I know but necessary for us all to sleep at night sometimes. Good Luck


Registered User
Mar 21, 2003
I'll go along with the white lies tactics in the first instance.

If you can think of a way for your mother-in-law to give up driving gracefully then go with it. The only advice I can offer is the route we went down with dad. We said that running the car was getting expensive and that giving it up would make more sense. We suggested putting some money in a pot for cabs. Also said that I was desperate for a care so could help out. Felt a bit mean not telling the whole truth but it did work and kept dads dignity intact.

The car was a big emotional barrier in the early progression but never the less it was essential for dad to stop driving sooner than later.

If this or a similar approach does not work you may need to resort to other approaches like disconnecting the starter motor ;) or as others mentioned the DVLA route. That would have been my last resort with dad as it would have been very upsetting in his case. However, the most important thing was making sure that dad did not have an accident and a regret that we would all have to live with for the rest of our lives. He wouldn't have wanted that.

Kind Regards


Registered User
Mar 6, 2007
Wigan, Lancs
We too have been there and got the t-shirt.

If you possibly can, try and get your MIL to think that giving up driving was her idea. We didn't and paid the price. Little white lies (or even big white whoppers) are also the way to go. My Dad asked me to tell him the truth about why he couldn't drive and whether he would drive again and so I did. BIG MISTAKE!

The only thing we did do right was to let him believe that it wasn't us that informed the DVLA. He thinks it was the consultant who he no longer sees (just as well he no longer sees him as he threatened if he ever saw him again he would punch his lights out!:eek:).

It was in fact the GP who reported it but it took 6 months for the DVLA to take action, so try and keep the car off-road in the meantime.

It may be a difficult time, but the relief you will feel when your MIL is no longer a danger to herself and others will make it all worthwhile.

Good luck.


Registered User
Nov 16, 2007
East Midlands
Here's another who's got the t-shirt,read the book.seen the film.....!

Giving up driving = loss of independence...so it is extremely difficult and needs to be handled as sensitively as possible.

Everyone has found there own way around it...

In our case the consultant at my husband's first visit "advised" him to stop...at first I went through the mill because my husband blamed me..but that day I took the car keys off him..(2 years ago..) and he hasn't driven since...which has been a huge relief as he was very unsafe.

Once we had the diagnosis I notified the DVLA..returned his license..and that was that.

We manage to get around it by me telling him it's "the law!"..because he has Alzheimers Disease.

He still thinks he is a better driver than everyone else..:rolleyes:
For safety' sake it had to be done..

I do sympathise..and know the anxiety this causes..but it really is for the best...

Wishing you all well..and good luck...

Love gigi xx


Registered User
Jan 1, 2007
Newcastle upon Tyne
I've been there too and agree with the hide the keys or disable the car scenarios. I was reasonably lucky in that Dad's car needed an MOT and was so rusty it didn't pass and wasn't repairable anyway. The consultant also told him to stop - but I don't know if he would have understood and taken any notice if his car had still been driveable.

I've also experience of what can happen if someone drives when they shouldn't - a good few years ago I had my car written off whilst waiting at a roundabout at the end of a dual carriageway by an old lady coming along behind me who "blacked out" with her foot on the accelerator. Luckily none of us was hurt, and the police said at the time it appeared that the lady had fallen asleep. But now that I know what I know about AD ... I often wonder if she had it and shouldn't have been driving.


Registered User
May 26, 2008

A big thankyou to everyone who posted a reply to my message.
My wife went round to see her mum this morning to take her to the doctor and found her unconscious in bed after having had a massive stroke in the night. She is now in hospital, unable to move or speak, so I don't suppose we will have to worry about her driving now.
I just wanted to say what a lovely community you have here, very friendly and helpful. I hope things go as well as they can for you all. Best wishes, David.


Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
SW Scotland
Oh dear, Newlander, nobody wanted that particular solution to your problem.

My thoughts are with you and your wife and her mother at this awful time for you.

Please let us know how things go.


Registered User
Mar 6, 2007
Wigan, Lancs
Dear David,

I'm so sorry to hear about your MIL. As Hazel says that wasn't the solution you wanted.

Best wishes to you, your wife and your MIL.


Registered User
Jun 3, 2005
Hi David

I'm sorry that things have got worse rather than better, but people do make good recoveries from strokes, so all is not lost yet.

However, now would be a good time to get the doctor to advise MiL she cannot drive any longer. The problem could reappear and it would be a shame to have to go through the same worry again. I know that I would fight tooth & nail to retain my own right to drive, & I haven't (yet) lost the ability to reason! I'm sure many drivers, like me, cannot imagine how they could manage without the car.

Best wishes for a merciful future