Two Aging Parents With Dementia Were Still Driving

Sara was in a dilemma. She has one sibling and 3 step-siblings. Everyone was worried about their aging parents who both had dementia, which was no longer “mild”. Both parents were still driving, despite the family’s pleas to get them to stop. Sara was fearful of confronting her Dad, who was a former law enforcement officer. She thought he might have a gun in the house and could hurt her or someone else. He was angry, controlling and resistant to all help. Mom was passive and did whatever Dad said. Sara came to us for advice.

Through a series of consultations, we worked with Sara to develop a strategy for getting both cars away from her parents. It took a great deal of advance planning and coordination with a caregiver, lawyer, the court and a towing company, as well as getting all 5 siblings involved in the intervention. Sara took our advice and got cooperation from all of her siblings. When the day came to do the intervention, everything worked smoothly.

A Family Intervention Helped

The intervention was carried out by all of the siblings and step-siblings. First, the court was involved in a proceeding already underway, in granting Sara conservatorship/guardianship over both parents. Oddly, the parents did not resist. One thing missing from the court papers was anything about the cars. I suggested that specific language be added to the Order of Conservatorship. Sara took this advice and got it done by the conservatorship attorney.  

Next, the court papers were given to the towing company, and Sara set a date for one car to be towed away to storage. The step-siblings arranged to pick up the parents and take them for an outing in the siblings’ car. Sara and her sister went to the parents’ home with the keys to both cars, which they had obtained beforehand when the parents were out. The police had been notified ahead of time and were on standby in case any trouble occurred.

The Cars Were Towed to a Safe Place

Sara and her sister first checked for guns in the house. Finding none, they then proceeded with the plan. They met the towing company at the house and Dad’s car was removed. Then Sara drove Mom’s car away to storage, and her sister picked her up. Later, they returned to the house. The parents arrived with the 3 step-siblings, and everyone sat down together to explain to their parents that they were no longer going to be able to drive and that their cars were no longer available. Dad resisted but had to accept the situation. Mom accepted it without protest.

The outcome of the intervention was that the parents, who where dangerously driving in spite of their dementia, were placed under Sara’s conservatorship (guardianship). Despite Dad’s resistance, a caregiver was brought in to drive her parents around. It was rough going for everyone at first, but the adult children took decisive action, with our help, to keep their parents safe.

“I want to compliment Carolyn Rosenblatt and Dr. Davis on the newsletter you’ve been sending out to the community. It is exceptionally informative. You have provided useful tools and information to those of us working in the field of gerontology and the legal arena. I appreciate the efforts and applaud the web site. I look forward to receiving future issues.”

Diane Wadsworth

“The Boomer’s Guide to Aging Parents” is the most comprehensive, forthright, and heartfelt resource guide for families with an aging elder…Carolyn is a recognized expert who has a rare and unique combination of deep and broad expertise as an astute attorney and wise nurse. She is a treasure, and a rare find. You’ll want to keep her book on your night stand.”

Frannie Field

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