How can I persuade my father to stop driving?

2 answers | Last updated: Nov 28, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My dad has been informed by 2 doctors that he should not be driving. However, he refuses to give up the keys. What can we 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.

It depends on what's prompting the doctor recommendations and if this was a firm, evidence-based diagnosis or an off-the-cuff, rushed remark.

If there's any doubt, get a multidisciplinary assessment of his driving fitness. The American Occupational Therapy Association has a database listing certified driving rehabilitation specialists so you can find one in your area ( It may be that with retraining or some adaptation your father can keep driving safely or modify his driving behavior to minimize risks.

However if he can't, then it's time to intervene. Start by talking. Ask open-ended questions to find out how he sees the issue. On average we'll outlive our ability to drive by about ten years. Has he thought about how he will get around when he is no longer safe to drive? What are the alternatives to driving that he is comfortable with? If talking calmly and openly doesn't work you may have to try other steps.

Medically unfit drivers can be reported to the licensing authority (i.e., department of motor vehicles). State's differ in how they respond to reports, but it usually triggers official action that may compel him to make the change.

Community Answers

Elfie answered...

The questions asked like "how are you going to get around" should seem obvious. Seniors are reluctant to give up their keys even with age or ill health because it means dependency. Once your keys are on the hook your world become very, very small. Outreach taxi service programs even non profits charge a fee (they have to). Generally they will take you to one doctors appointment but you can't have two appointments on the same day. That may have been all your doctor has open or you have to wait a month. You have to ask all the time if you need to shop, run errands, even buy new shoes, and If you're someone who finds it hard to ask for help regardless of reason it's double difficulty. Family doesn't always step up maybe because they live far away or those close find your needs an inconvenience and even bothersome. (I've seen that in action). Friends aren't always available and may indeed still be in the work force or have moved far away. Some have no support system at all. I agree that the keys will have to be hung up at some time, sooner rather than later, but someone should have the plan of action ready to hand to them with some assurances that (unless the criik dun rise and they dun lost the paddle) their needs will be willingly met Please remember that many people don't socialize much and that won't change. Reaching out is hard for them and this country is sadly lacking compared to other countries where they seek you out. Church isn't necessarily the saving grace. (that seems to be a frequent suggestion in similar matters, we don't all go because we don't all care to) So let's face it they have a lot to lose. They need to trust in some support system that will be there for them.