Taking Away the Keys

One of the hardest moments any caregiver faces is having to take away their parent’s car keys. For many of us, it’s the first time we are really telling our parent what to do, and the reaction can be rather emotional for everyone involved. Like a lot of caregiving, there’s no “right” way to do this: you have to use your best judgement and work things through with them. Just bear in mind that it’s probably going to take some time for your parent to process so don’t expect to solve it all at once.  

As mentioned in the “Your Father Behind the Wheel” article, accident rates for seniors are about the same as drivers in their 20’s. If you don’t observe him driving unsafely and if he hasn’t been in an accident he may be OK to keep driving. But of course, if you feel that he’s not driving safely or is too frail to be in a car, you need to act.

Here are a few ideas which may help:
- Check that his driver’s license, car registration, and insurance are still valid. Many states require more frequent tests for senior drivers, and he may not realize his license has expired. If he can’t pass the renewal tests, then he has to stop
- A lot of seniors only drive during the day and in good weather. Getting him to agree to limit his driving to good conditions is a good first step
- Seniors worry about not being able to see friends or attend activities if they can’t drive. If you can arrange rides so that he doesn’t need to drive herself, it will be a lot easier to finally take away the keys
- Car hailing services like Uber and Lyft are in over 200 cities and may actually be cheaper than maintaining and insuring his car     
- Many communities have transportation services for the elderly. Here in Massachusetts, we have “The Ride” 
- Grocery delivery services also cut down on driving, though you might like to think about adding some other activity to get him out and about