Does Dad have to have an accident before someone intervenes and gets him to stop driving?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 26, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My 91-year old dad was told by his eye doctor that he is driving illegally. He claims he can see just fine and continues to drive to and from the grocery store, bank, etc., in his neighborhood. My sister and I are offering several times a week to take him shopping,or wherever he needs to go; however, out of boredom, or habit, he takes off in his car almost every day. We have talked to him many times about this. He completely ignores us. My sister is threatening to put a Club on his car or disarm it some other way. I think that action is too harsh. Any suggestions/ideas for us? Unfortunately, the DVM has been very little help. They say they can't talk to us about someone else's driver's license. Does he have to have an accident before the message gets through??

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.

I understand your frustration, I think figuring out if a parent is legally safe to drive or not is one of the hardest things adult children confront. First, check State Driving Laws to find out what the vision requirements are -- and if, your father is driving illegally. If he is, having to surrender his license may force him to accept this unwanted change. If he isn't, try to get him evaluated by an occupational therapist (OT) who is a certified driving rehabilitation specialist. The OT could help him maximize driving fitness and safety and plan for his eventual driving retirement. Keep talking about driving safety and fitness. The message will eventually get through and he'll appreciate your love and support even though now it seems fruitless.