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How do I get my husband to stop driving?

My husband has Parkinson's. The muscles controling his left eye are stiffening so his eye doesn't track well. He has complained about double vision and I have seen him have trouble with depth perception. He recently was in the left turn lane on a 4 lane road and instead of turning, drove straight into the opposing turn lane. Fortunately, no one was in that lane so he was able to merge into the proper lane. I expressed my concern to him and he became very defensive. His doctor suggested that he have a professional assess his driving skills and then make a decision based on the results. This seemed like a reasonable plan but my husband was furious and said that he would decide when to quit driving. I'm afraid that he'll hurt himself or someone else before that happens. The state of Colorado does not require a driving test as one gets older so I'm at my wits end.
Status: Open    Sep 15, 2015 - 03:27 PM


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Sep 20, 2015 - 11:08 AM

On the last day that I ever rode with my dad, who also had Parkinson's, he frightened me REALLY badly. He made a left turn in front of oncoming traffic.( It was scary enough that I screamed, and it looked very much like the woman driving the car closest to us screamed also ;-/.. ) In the first split-second I thought it would be a head-on crash, with him and the other driver receiving most of the impact; and in the next split second, I was pretty sure that I would receive the major impact as she would be T-boning us on my side. I don't know what my blood-pressure was immediately after that. I never rode with him again; but a few weeks later, while at his house, he invited me and some other relatives to go eat, and he proceeded to go to the driver's side. I called him away from the car to tell him privately that I could not ride with them if he was driving. He was so, SO HURT. I explained that I was on blood pressure medicine, and that I couldn't start taking a higher dose. I sweetly said that the last time I rode with him, he had scared me really badly, and that even though I had been on blood pressure meds, my blood pressure had gone up really high. I reiterated that I couldn't start taking a higher dose. He was hurrt, insulted, and a bit mad; you could even say that maybe he pouted a bit through dinner...I hated knowing that it had hurt his feelings; but I think it laid a good ground-work for when my sister, with whom he was living, took away his keys not long after that. I don't know if this helps, but it's just an uncomfortable and unpleasant thing I, and my sister, had to do - to protect him, ourselves, and other people on the road. ps - It may help to point out other friends or relatives who no longer drive (especially if any of them gave up driving on their own, without being forced to do so).

Source: life experience


Sep 16, 2015 - 06:33 AM

Check with the department of motor vehicles in your state. His doctor may be able to refer him for a mandatory test, the results of which would be forwarded to the DMV if the recommendation is revocation. In Minnesota, a private agency contracts with the state to perform that testing. I don't know what the law is in Colorado, but I would imagine there are laws to address health impairment that makes drivers unsafe. Talk with his doctor, and check with your state or county's department on aging.

That said, this is a HUGE loss for people. Taking away driving is taking away freedom, so you want to be understanding and help him accept this change. If his license is revoked be alert to the risk for suicide. I guess to the extent you can, help him recognize ways he can get around safely without a car. (He can call a taxi or take public transportation if those are available where you live, and those options still allow some autonomy.)

Sep 20, 2015 - 11:23 PM

You are too close to the problem. If you have an adult child or other relative whom your husband trusts, perhaps that individual can talk toyour husband about the problems and convience him to give up driving on his own.

My husband got my Dad to give up his keys. Of course that was after my Dad was stopped for running a red light, going the wrong way down a one way street. He almost hit the policeman. The fear of legal fees for a ticket - that he did not get- was also a big impetus to give up the keys.

Sep 21, 2015 - 09:55 AM

This is a tricky area. Common sense and concern for the general welfare says one thing; the law and elder rights say another. Ultimately, this is about saving lives, so this is a time to adhere to the letter of the law but not the spirit of it.

My father's driving quality diminished the the point that he was driving in teh wrong lane on turns ("I just straightend out a curve. It's not a problem.") and driving the wrong way on freeway ramps ("Nobody was even there. It's not a problem.") There will always be rationalizations why this danger is acceptable, even normal, and there is never a problem until someone gets maimed or killed. Then it's too late. Your judgment needs to take precedence even, if necessary, by trickery.

My father's car, like his driving, became increasingly unreliable. Sometimes it wouldn't start. Sometimes it would start and then stall. Sometimes the key wouldn't even fit into the ignition. Always, when he had these infuriating problems, we would thoughtly offer to drive him wherever he needed to go. We were reliable, even if the car wasn't, and over time became the preferred choice. Entirely coincidentally, we also learned what happens when you disconnect the battery, put a potato in the tailpipe, or swap otherwise identical keys on the keyring...

Sep 22, 2015 - 01:23 PM

In Colorado a doctor, or actually anyone else, can send notice to the Denver Driver's License Dept (fax: 303-205-5990) of concerns and they then reportedly require that individual has an evaluation at the local driver's license office by a certain date. Tested for knowledge of rules, vision, reaction time, taken out for a test. Either pass, or license cancelled. But I have found that having the doctor talk to individual can be the best option, if doctor is willing, as somehow folks accept it more easily from their doctor vs a family member. So just asking the doctor to have a discussion, outlining your observations about safety issues beforehand, might be best. Or requesting doctor to send a letter to the License Dept. I am a social worker with elderly folks, this issue does come up repeatedly.
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