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Welcome to CareNotes. In this special section we will feature a reader's letter and provide an opportunity for an interactive exchange that will help find some answers and possible solutions to concerns. If you wish to respond to this letter, simple follow the link provided at the end of the letter and add your comments and thoughts to our CareNotes Board.

This Week's Carenote - 10/23/12

My dad will soon to be 93.  He has congestive heart failure and an aneurysm in the aorta.  He is frail after having some serious falls in the last eight months, including passing out for several hours in his kitchen.
My sister and I live in Minnesota and Dad lives in Iowa—a five-hour trip.  We signed him up for a medical alert system, a meal home delivery service and a caregiver.  He discontinued each after a short run.
On our the last trip to the doctor with him, we discovered that Dad's driver’s license expired several years ago.  He took the written test again, but failed.  He has been advised by a letter from the Department of Motor Vehicles that his doctor sent in a medical form stating Dad can't have a license for medical reasons.  However, Dad insists on driving.  We have talked with the police, whose hands are tied;  we are talking to Dad's lawyer this week.  We have been advised by different professionals that we need to take the keys.  We have done that, but my dad is threatening us with a lawsuit.
Our concern is not just the threat to himself, but that he could cause injury to someone else.  What is our liability, even though we have tried to stop him from driving; what actions can we take to protect ourselves?

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Name: S
Location: Amarillo, Tx
Date: 11/05/2012
Time: 06:19 PM


When our doctor told my husband to stop driving. The doctor filled out a prescription slip with my husbands name and wrote that he could no longer drive. Doctor signed, dated and gave the prescription slip to my husband. This worked at our house.

Name: Debra McFadden
Location: Windsor Ontario
Date: 11/05/2012
Time: 09:19 AM


Do not worry about your Dad's threat to file a lawsuit. With the doctor's note, letter from the Department of Motor Vehicles and an expired license the facts are on your side. Any ethical lawyer would not take this case. I am glad you are talking with his lawyer. He should have a Power of Attorney for Care and Property. You live too far from your Dad and I agree with others who suggest he either move closer to you or you to him. He likely needs far more care than you realize. It is difficult to handle the role reversal but you must put his welfare first and get him the help he needs and deserves to live out his remaining time in dignity. Pray for wisdom and courage.

Name: Cindy James
Location: Oklahoma City
Date: 11/05/2012
Time: 08:56 AM


To Susan, "social worker" from Kansas--you are entirely too judgmental to be a real social worker. You should know that there are many, many factors that go into providing care from a distance and certainly none of us can know the dynamics that exist within this family. To berate someone because YOU think they are not providing quality care is very unprofessional. I know many individuals who are dealing with this sort of stress on a daily basis--it is difficult enough to cope with elders close by, but

Name: jaleyn
Location: Iowa
Date: 11/05/2012
Time: 08:13 AM


I know this is hard, I had to do it with my Mom! She was never a good driver and she has dementia... After my Dad died we just basically told her she was not safe and my sister came and got the car. I would have a serious talk with him and tell him you do not want him to hurt himself or someone else. I would diable the car or take it away and get his keys. I would be very concerned about the liablity for him and you!

Name: Linda
Location: Cleveland OH
Date: 11/05/2012
Time: 06:51 AM


While reviewing the comments I see that most feel it is there decision to take the keys, dismantle the vehicle and have insurance companies send letters. I propose that you provide to him information so that he is empowered to make the decision. In other words try some of the programs that are available regarding driving. One in our area is called Keeping Us Safe. This program is a a self assessment for the driver. They are taken through this course to see where they are with their driving skills and at the end of the program they make an informed decision on whether or not they feel they should be driving. It is a great way to support their independence and decision making.

Name: J Coker
Location: Oklahoma
Date: 11/05/2012
Time: 06:50 AM


In my state, as soon as you have notified the Dept. of Public Safety of the situation, you have no liability. Seek out a local bus/van service to come pick up your dad for scheduled trips to the grocery, church, etc. Think of his safety and others and disable that vehicle

Name: Pam Parrish, LSW
Location: Cadiz, Ohio
Date: 11/05/2012
Time: 06:38 AM


Giving up driving is so hard. It's their last ditch at independence. One thing we have found helpful around here is one of the local nursing facilities has a driving simulator. All the patient needs is a script from the physician requesting an OT evaluation. Then the patient completes the driving simulator test. If he passes then great, their should be no problem with driving. If he fails, the patient is more apt to realize that driving isn't in his best interest. Patients don't want to injure anyone else, let alone themselves. Check around with your local facilities to see if anyone has a driving simulator test. Good luck to you and your dad. Pam

Name: patricia White
Location: phila
Date: 11/04/2012
Time: 07:36 PM


I am a home care adviser and i tell my client to included their family member in the decided that are made for them. If they need help around the house let them be included with the question that you would ask. Have them present in the room while you are talking they can take notes. The driving issue is a problem that is common . Have the insurance company send a letter stated their concern if a accident happen and in the letter his insurance should be cancelled.

Name: Susan Huebert
Location: Kansas
Date: 11/04/2012
Time: 03:45 PM


From a distance you set up services for your 93 y/o father, which he subsequently discontinued... As a social worker, if your father came to me for healthcare, I would contact Adult Protective Services. Your father is clearly in poor health and has impaired judgment. Would he have left you and your sister to fend for yourselves when you were 3-5 years old? Why are you leaving him? It sounds like the options include either relocate to his area or relocate him to yours. If you simply can't be inconvenienced, then place him in assisted living. If he doesn't consent and if you and your sister have neglected to make arrangements to have power of attorney, then you may need to go through legal channels to seek guardianship/conservatorship. But in the meantime, if he injures himself or anyone else through YOUR negligence, I don't know if anyone can sue you and recover if that is what you are asking. Perhaps a better question is, morally and ethically, do you feel like you have no responsibility? And if something happens to him and/or others, will you be able to forgive yourself?

Name: Howard
Location: St. Louis, MO
Date: 11/04/2012
Time: 08:49 AM


If dad is a Veteran he may be able to get some help to get a homecare caregiver to transport him, and get a VA pension to reimbures for the cost. You might try and go to;

Name: teri
Location: rhode island
Date: 11/04/2012
Time: 05:40 AM


I had a similar situation with my mom. We had a friend who lived close to her. She didn't mind driving my mom to run errands,etc. Also this friend couldn't afford a car, so she used my mom's. It was a win, win!

Name: Liz S
Location: Richmond, va
Date: 10/23/2012
Time: 12:37 PM


Many DMV's will send a letter advising him that his license has been expired and that he now is committing a crime by simply driving. Have you considered moving him into some sort of adult facility so he will get his meals and some socialization? They are expensive, but often worth the money to give us peace of mind. The other thing to do, if someone is mechanically handy is to do something to disable the car and then tell him that it broke down and doesn't appear to be able to be repaired. Another alternative is to remove the car from his residence, which eliminates the ability to drive. I "borrowed" my mother's car 3 years before she died, its still at my house now, only difference its now in my name.

Date: 10/23/2012
Time: 10:43 AM


You should consider disabling the car so that it is not driveable. Surely you can find a mechanic sympathetic to a doctor's orders and the fact that he has failed the driver's test. If the car is "broken", he cannot drive and can't blame family members for telling him what to do. This is a tough situation because no one wants to limit a loved one, but how horrible would you all feel if he were to cause injury or even death to someone else? You would not have a second chance to do the right thing.

Name: Judy Whittaker
Location: Margate, Fl
Date: 10/23/2012
Time: 07:55 AM


That last glimmer of independence is very hard to give up, but it is necessary at this point for his safety and the safety of others. My mother is 91, but we were fortunate that she volunteered her keys about 6 months ago. I have been a homecare nurse for many years, and my advice to you is that you think of possible alternative care sites for your dad, either with you or in an independent living facility where he will get his meals, have people around him, and have activities to participate in during the day. We moved my mom out of her home of 30+ years and into such a facility closer to us, and it was very hard, and many tears, but now a year later she has made friends, is safe and we can see her we're all happy.

Name: Janlee
Location: Texas
Date: 10/23/2012
Time: 07:01 AM


Stand firm but acknowledge to your dad how hard it is to lose his abilities. It is very hard to accept the great loss of one's independence and allow oneself to be cared for. Brush off your dad's anger and denial, but don't stop asking him for acceptable ways to bring him the help he needs. As you can see, you can't force him to accept help, but you can say, "Dad, I know it is hard for you to do the laundry and keep this place clean, would it be O.K. for someone to come in just a couple of hours a day to 1) help you keep the place neat and 2) give me peace of mind that you are eating and going out when you need to?". Your dad needs alternative to staying home alone, so try to find people who can take him someone at least once a week. Also, make sure your care provider makes sure Dad has at least 1 hot meal a day and other food available.



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