What to Do with My Elderly Father?

Updated on November 19, 2010
A.S. asks from Canton, OH
19 answers

Hello ladies. Sorry this question is geared more towards my dad rather than my kids. Here goes- My dad is 72 and has been in 3 car accidents within 3 months. The first two he backed into something and now the recent one he rear ended someone. He told me they were ok and that he was only going about 25 MPH but he also lies alot ( sad, but true) He got sick (pneumonia) last Feb and we moved him back to Ohio from Florida, which he totally hates. This last accident he was in Florida.. just last week. He has driven there and back twice in the last month. 19hr drive Ok, my question- If I call the BMV can they make him retake his driving test (hoping he would fail it) or do they not do this? He still has a FL license. I'm really concerned he's going to end up hurting himself or someone else because he is REALLY stubborn and doesn't want to admit that he's geting older. Sometimes he also has memory lapse, but with little things I tell him and then two days later he forgets. HELP!! Thanks for your replys.

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answers from Cincinnati on

I HOPE you can report him. I remember waiting in line in the BMV a couple of years ago while a very elderly woman who could not stand on her own and COULD NOT READ THE FORM SHE HAD TO SIGN THAT SAID SHE HAD NO ENCUMBRANCES TO DRIVING renewed her driver's license. The woman behind the desk actually read each question to this old woman (sympathetically) and told her where to circle, and then gave her a new license. The elderly woman did not have to take a test to renew, either. I was horrified, and looking back, I wish I had gotten that woman's name (the one behind the counter) and reported her, because she put me and my babies at risk by not insisting that if the woman couldn't read the questionnaire, she couldn't drive. There needs to be some way to report the elderly when they don't recognize their own limitations, even if it is very sad. Good luck and please let us know what happens.



answers from Cleveland on

I was, in fact, watching this dilemma unfold before me when I was renewing my driver's license/photo this past July, just a week before my baby due date. It was striking to me at the time that this gentleman was trying so hard to pass the eye exam, but couldn't, and this pregnant lady is standing there hoping the BMV won't "pass" him when he shouldn't. I felt badly for the gentleman, and his son that brought him. Thank you for caring, I know this is difficult.

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answers from Cincinnati on

There is a form that you can fill out from the BMV. It is made for cases just like yours for elderly parents that have become an issue driving. Just give them a call or stop by your local office.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My grandmother was very similar. Speak with the Dr. They will notify the correct department. They didn't even have her take a test, they just took away her license...at the request of the Dr. If I remember correctly, the Dr. also contacted Adult Social Services, to check up and make sure she wasn't driving. She found ways to and eventually my family took away her car keys. Here's the thing...age doesn't matter. He is "young" but he is also a danger to others. In that case, he needs to get the thing yanked. I firmly believe anyone over 70, should have to take a yearly test. Some people can drive into their nineties no problem, but MOST do start to have problems.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

hey A., yeah, definitely talk to his dr. & let him know of your plans to contact the DMV b/c the dr. may need to sign something & it'd be good to have a heads up. in addition, i worked for adult protective services for years before moving and alerting the DMV only helps when the person (your dad) is involved in another accident or incident again. which, yeah is good, but they don't seek him out and make him take the test, see what i'm saying? so i've had adult children (in my cases) flatten tires, remove the battery or disconnect the wires or something, flat out take the keys. in some cases the elderly parent will call the police for stealing (taking the keys), but the police are always on the children's side (yours) b/c they see the danger you're trying to prevent. this is oh so hard and i really feel for you. definitely doing the right thing. don't try to reason w/him though. it'll just completely frustrate you. just realize he doesn't understand and now unfortunately you just have to take over and take control like you did when you were raising your kids. good luck honey!!! :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I'd call the DMV or police station for guidance. You are right to be concerned, for your father and the public's safety. I know it is hard, but everyone needs to be protected here. No one wants to admit they are getting older and may lose their independence, but sadly sometimes thats just the reality. Good luck!



answers from Indianapolis on

Call the BMV and ask them about options. They may have him take a driving test. Might want to check w/ his insurance company, too. They may decide to drop him if this continues.

I totally agree w/ you. You don't want him hurting himself or anyone else.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I think you need to talk to his doctor--as I believe doctors are the ones that can notify the DMV. (If people could request that for others--there would be a LOT of re-tests out there! LOL)
It's scary that he is taking long drives back to FL from Ohio.....
Is there a social worker that you can talk to for guidance?



answers from St. Louis on

scary, isn't it? But just because he's 72....doesn't mean he's too old to drive! What says he's beyond driving would be the accidents! & his insurance company is going to cut him off...& then ....maybe he'll see the light.

With today's privacy laws, if you are not listed with his doctor's office, then you have no medical recourse. & I do believe the doctor can make the call on ending the driving. Good Luck



answers from Pittsburgh on

Ugh..this is such a hard spot to be in. On one hand you totally feel for the elderly because losing your license is losing your indepence. How terrible this would have to be. But.....as parents we know that we CANNOT have elderly drivers out there with our kids in parking lots, on the streets, etc. I live in an area that has many elderly and am always concerned about this. I am amazed when I see some of them and how very old they are and confused looking. And there has been many accidents that they have caused-one was even with a school bus. This is a HUGE public saftey concern really. But the thing is-the seniors are the BIGGEST voting bloc out there so no politician in his right mind will do anything about this lest he anger the seniors. Makes me so darn angry.

In your case I would definitely notify the DMV and see what you can do about it. It is worth a try.



answers from Cleveland on

I don't have much else to add, but I agree that it would be helpful to talk to someone at his doctor's office. They've dealt with this kind of thing before and can probably help you with how to have "the talk." I also wanted to say that as someone who sees a lot of unsafe driving on the road when I'm out with my two-year-old, I think it's great that you have the courage to do something about it. A lot of people just look the other way in these situations because it's so hard to deal with. Good for you!



answers from Johnstown on

If this is due to a medical issue, then his Dr. is the one that needs to contact the DMV. They can make him take his tests over and if he fails, pull the license. But please remember--even if he doesn't have his license and still has access to a vehicle, he's most likely going to drive anyway unless ALL keys are taken from him &/or the vehicle is removed from his premises. I feel for you! We've gone through the same thing with my grandma and it doesn't get any easier :(


answers from Modesto on

Your dad is still quite young for having his license yanked. My grandpa is 93 and still drives much to our dismay.... his doc signed papers for the DMV just so he can. Luckily he lives in a rural area with a bunch of other seniors so I guess if he crashed into anyone it would be a senior too.. ha.
Anyway, you have to have that "talk" with dad first. Let him know of your concerns and ask him how safe he really feels on the road. Give him some of the scenarios for why he might not be a asset on the road anymore, compare him to a 16 yr old that just got their license.... they are about in the same category really. Also, if you pull his license are you prepared to take him places when he needs to go..... that's the other issue that comes along. He's had a few fender benders that happened close together, it's a red flag for sure but might not be all that bad, just sounds bad. Have you ridden with him lately so you can make a proper judgement? Most seniors will hand over their keys when they actually scare themselves. My grandma ran a red light at 84 and gave her keys to Grandpa without muss or fuss.
It is a touchy subject. We all get old enough to have to face having our keys taken away some day. I think calling his doctor and letting him know what is going on is the best thing to do..... and to make sure the doc keeps you anonymous. If your dad passes medical and dmv exams there is nothing you can do.


answers from Biloxi on

First to answer the question "What to do with my elderly father? " - Love him. Okay, had to get that out of the way. :)

Have you sat down and talked to him about your concerns? Has he had a recent medical checkup? As we get older our reflexes slow down, along with vision and hearing acuity. So this may just all be a result of a natural organic process - BUT only a physician will be able to tell. Ask you father, since he is now living in a different state, to have a complete medical workup so that there are current, up-to-date medical records available. With HIPPA laws the Doctor may not be able to release a lot of medical info to you but if you explain, before the appointment, that you need your father cleared for driving, he should be able to give you a heads up one way or the other.

See if there is a defensive driving class in your area for seniors. Try and get a copy of the accident reports to see what the situation was at the time of the accident and ascertain if that had any bearing on the accident occurring.

If you father is driving 19 hours to FL regularly, I think it indicates that he really doesn't want to live in Ohio. Is there anyway that he can remain in FL? It is very hard to relocate at that age and realize that you are losing your independence, and your friends and community. Yes, you will worry about him aging and being so far away from you - but I learned when I moved my Grandmother to me that taking her away from her community "aged" her faster. It was very hard for her the first year or so.

As for forgetting things - again that is an organic process - and let's face it we all have forgetfulness. Also, he could be experiencing "selective" memory and just ignoring the things he doesn't deem important.

Bottom line is you need to find a way to ensure his safety that leaves him his dignity and independence for as long as possible. It is really hard when are parents age.

Good Luck


answers from Denver on

My dad is 87 and still drives. We all face the issue as our parents get older.

Check with your local DMV and see what the laws are pertaining to elderly parents. There may not be much legally you can do because you don't have any 'legal authority' over your dad.

Forgetting things as we get older is normal. There is a difference between that and dementia - the beginnings of Alzheimer's. If you think this is the case, get him to a doctor and get a diagnoses. This is probably the only way you can get his DL taken away.

It's very hard on children to deal with aging parents. Sounds like your heart is in the right place and I can only wish you the strength to handle this.



answers from New York on

Wow I feel your pain...been there, done that with my mother. She also lived in FL, had a couple of accidents (was still driving at the age of 81 and was almost DEAF), someone called DMV to report her, and she lost her license. Funny thing was, she fought like hell to have it reinstated, and with her doctor's help, was successful! Great doctor, huh? Some (most) older people just don't want to give up driving because it's their last link to independence - even when it's far past the point of safe to be doing so - and they can become very defiant if you bring it up. Very difficult conversation to have, but you certainly don't want Dad hurting himself or someone else! The writing's on the wall - 3 accidents in 3 months isn't good! I'm curious why he's making such a long drive by himself to FL - is he unable to fly for some reason? That's just way too long a trip for someone his age to do alone. I'm sorry I don't really have a solution for you, but just wanted you to know how common this situation is. I agree with another poster who said that older folks should have to take more frequent drivers' tests to renew their licenses, but unfortunately that's not the way our system works. Maybe your dad's doc can offer you a solution - chances are he deals with this sort of thing all the time. Good Luck!



answers from Charlotte on




answers from Tulsa on

I know several people who contacted the local police and the police were able to write them tickets. Also, they contacted the DMV. Eventually the people all failed their tests or lost their license for too many points(wrecks, tickets, no insurance). It wasn't as simple as one phone call, but they can drag that test out and help make them flunk;0).



answers from Atlanta on

I've been right here. We did not take my Dad's license away but we should have. My Dad had one major memory lapse and ended up getting the state patrol in four states, the military police and the local sherif'fs department involved. Nothing happened but it could have....at that point we took his car away and he was okay with it.

You can certainly let FL know that he no longer lives there and give them an address to contact him. If he has his wits, he, at 72, is not likely to like it but he needs to know that if he kills someone he will hate it more. Let him know that you can take him ANYWHERE he NEEDS to go. Obviously you have some pull with him or he wouldn't be in Ohio with you.

I'm so sorry you are dealing with this. Like you, my Dad is elderly and my kids are young. It's hard to juggle but possible!

God bless,


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