How can I approach Mom about giving up her car keys?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 09, 2016
Stiggy66 asked...

I moved in with my Mom 3 years ago, not expecting dementia to progress so fast. She had a car accident a year ago and it sent her over the edge, weight loss, depression, paranoia, sleeplessness, etc. I have taken her to so many doctors, she is angry with me. She is on Lexapro and anothr drug to sleep. Everyday is a challenge.

I have become a caretaker and I need to work more than part-time. I bought the house; but kept her on the deed. I bought the house after my dad passed because she could not afford to live here.

It has been a struggle to get Mom to wear her driving glasses and now her hearing aids. My current questions are: Mom is on the house deed. If she gets into a serious auto accident could I lose my home? I do not want her to hurt anyone! When is the time right to remove a driver's license? How do I take an adult's license away? I also do not believe Mom's primary care provider has her best interest at heart, I have a new better suited for her provider in mind but she refuses to go. What can I do?

Expert Answers

Elizabeth Dugan, a Fellow of the Gerontology Institute, University of Massachusetts Boston, is the author of Driving Dilemma: The Complete Resource Guide for Older Drivers and Their Families.

Thanks for your questions. It sounds like you have your hands full.

To answer your questions: Yes, it is possible that if your mother was in an at-fault accident she could be sued. (But, that is true for anyone who drives.)

I cannot tell from your letter if the time is right for your mother to retire from driving. Our fitness to drive is determined by our ability to see, think, and move. Dementia impairs all three abilities, however the rate of impairment varies from person to person. (FYI, you might find this article about stopping a parent from driving helpful --

Given all that you are dealing with now and what may be needed in the future -- I recommend consulting with a geriatric social worker. I have found them to be a huge help. has a directory that you can search -- just plug in your zip code or town and what service you are looking for (geriatric care manager).

Good luck and thanks for all that you are doing to help your mother.