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Stroke patient trying to drive

My dad is a 6mos recovering stroke patient. He still has depth perception issues and is not ready to drive yet but he doesn’t believe what the therapists are saying to him. He believes once he start to drive, all his problems will go away. We’re signed up for a driving prgm at his rehab center where he actually gets into a car with a therapist to see how he does. But I’m afraid he’s just going to get into a car and start driving regardless of the result from the driving pgm. As it is, he’s already starting the engine and moving the car fwd and backwds a few feet in the drive way. He’s taken to hiding his key so I can’t take it away from him.

Is there something I can do to his Mercedes to keep it from moving? Can I deactivate his key or remove something from the car? I’m not car-inclined at all but I need to do something to keep him from possibly hurting himself.

Does he or does he not have the legal right to drive? If he has the legal right to drive, and he has his liberties, disabling his car or stealing his keys would probably be illegal. Do you have power of attorney?

You should contact your local DMV and state authorities to see what you can legally do. Sabotaging the car could land you in trouble if you aren’t careful.

I am pretty sure he has his liberties,LOL. I think you meant “he has his faculties”. Meaning his mind is clear and he knows what he is doing.

“Ability to act or perform, whether inborn or cultivated; capacity for any natural function; especially, an original mental power or capacity for any of the well-known classes of mental activity; psychical or soul capacity; capacity for any of the leading kinds of soul activity, as knowledge, feeling, volition; intellectual endowment or gift; power; as, faculties of the mind or the soul.”

His license is suspended since the stroke. His psychological recovery is such that he’s not willing to listen to anybody right now. He thinks he’s 100% even though all his doctors tell him otherwise.

I do have power of atty. I’m not concerned about the legal trouble I might get into. It’s more important for me to keep him safe and preventing any accidents should he take it upon himself that he’s all better to drive, even when he’s not. In the meantime, I’m following up with DMV and his psychologist to see who can speak with him or what else I can do.

@gill.catherine - I said what I meant. I was referring to his legal rights, not his faculties. If the OP has power of attorney, and her father’s license has been suspended, her father doesn’t have his liberties.

@chihchensun - If you have power of attorney, and he has no legal license or rights you need to worry about, it’s simple. Call a locksmith and get your own key made. Then confiscate the car. The police might also be willing to help you find those hidden keys.

There are ways to disable the car…ask a mechanic. You could get someone to replace the ignition switch. Or with your power of attorney sell the car. Hard decision trying to balance the need for self-reliance and safety. Good Luck, this is a hard one.

I don’t know how old your father is, but I can appreciate the situation. You are the parent, he is the child now in this and you are acting accordingly. You want to protect your father and others on the road as well. I urge you to continue on your course regardless of your father’s wishes and continue acting in concert with the doctors. Too many of us when dealing with elderly or incapacitated parents, revert back to the previous parent/child relationship and give them the decision making they shouldn’t have.
You’re they parent now, they are the child, he’s lucky to have such a thoughtful guardian.
Due to your good judgment, he’ll live to appreciate it. Take the car away if you have to by having it towed, regardless of the keys.

Do you not have a spare key? If you can get the hood open, a car-minded friend should be able to disconnect some ignition wire(s). If not, you could let all the air out of all the tires. But better to remove the temptation (car).

More to the point, if you have power of attorney, and you know he has no legal right to drive and that he wants to drive, I’d worry that, if he has an accident, you might somehow be held liable, or at least sued.

Wouldn’t have to be the ignition wires, just pull the battery out.

This is gonna take a while, be ready for a long heartbreaking road ahead.

My mom had a stroke as well and her inner mind would not accept that her outer being was unable to perform the way it used to.
She would blame dad and me for everything in the book, accusing us of blackmailing her to stop her hand crafts and driving for whatever twisted reasoning.

She wrecked the car rear-ending a cop and yelled at him for causing it. At this point in her condition she cannot speak well so he hauled her in for assumption of DUI.

Her crocheting and sewing hobbies went down the tubes but she refused to concede despite the evidence on her lap that her abilities were no longer there.

Her cooking suffered too ( she was a home-ec teacher ) and dad would have to watch her every move in the kitchen. From amounts of ingrediets to leaving the stove on, it was a constant chore.

Looking in the mirror at her sagging left facial features did not convince her.

listening to tape recordings of her speaking did not convince her. She accused us of playing tricks with the tape.

For now hide the keys, heck , HIDE THE CAR !
It is conceivable that he might recover enough. Only time will tell and it WILL be a long hard road for the entire family. But you must wait to see. Get forceful. Much like taking the keys from a drunk, an actual fight over it might be what it takes.

I’m tearing up just typing this thinking of the loss of a loved one who is still alive :frowning:

If you want a non-intrusive, passive method, try this…

Pull the fuel-pump relay. The car will crank and crank and crank and never start. He`ll kill the battery trying.

The downsides, you need to get into the car to do it. So you`ll need a key of some kind.
And you will need to be able to find the fuse or relay panel, and locate the fuel pump relay. The covers are usually labeled with a map, like a box of chocolate.

If he thinks he`s getting away with something, only to have the car not start… :wink:

The other thing you have to watch, whatever you do, is your father calling a mechanic or service station to un-do what you have done.

There was a story around years ago about an elderly alzheimers patient who, in a clear moment, tried to drive off in his car, found it wouldn`t start, walked to a gas station on the corner, had the mechanic come back home for a look, who was able to get it running and down to his shop for an inspection.

So whatever you do, make sure it`s good and effective, at least long enough for you to find out about it being un-done. Hope this helps.


Do you have any other family nearby? If so, when Dad is at rehab, you or another family member can go into his house and find the keys. If he carries them with him, someone could remove them from his pocket while he sleeps. If he changes into workout clothes at the rehab center, you could arrange it with the center to get the keys then.

I have a friend who is now 80 and had a stroke some 8 or 9 years ago. It affected her right side and she has to reach through the wheel with her left hand to start the engine and put the car in drive. We share rides to band and orchestra rehearsals and one rehearsal site is a 25 mile round trip. I used to worry about how she would handle an emergency situation. Well, I found out. We were traversing a street through a university campus and a student stepped right out in front of the car. My friend hauled her Cadillac to a quick stop, swerved slightly and missed the student. I don’t think I could have done as well. In fact, when I saw how dumb the student looked, I might not have even tried to avoid hitting her.

I would suggest that you insist that your father follow the therapist’s advice, but do give him encouragement. It’s possible for stroke patients to recover their driving abilities. Incidentally, my friend still plays her horn very well. Sbe has difficulty walking (has to use a cane), but once on stage, she is great.

My grandma had a stroke a few years ago and she makes the trip from Ohio to Florida just fine driving. I don’t think it was a real bad one, but I’m not real sure.
As for hitting the kid, you could just say you were texting on your phone and didn’t see the student walk in front of you. :stuck_out_tongue:
I’ve heard Ohio has texting as a secondary offense right now, but I heard about some officer getting killed here the other day and the driver that killed him was texting on his phone at the time. Part of me(and probably his fellow officers as well) hope they make an example out of this person when they sentence them. Something like voluntary manslaughter or something like that. I mean, I doubt anyone was holding a gun to the person’s head forcing them to text while they drove, so they did it voluntarily.

Folks, be careful when bandying the term “power of attorney” about. POA for someone who has not been legally declared unable to make his/her own decisions only allows the POA holder to act in the behalf of the party to carry out his/her expressed will (desires), and then only within the limitations of the POA if there are any. It does not empower an individual to make a decision that goes against the will of the individual.

Durable Power of Atty, DPOA, enables the holder to make all legal decisions for an indivdual once that individual is declared incompetant, but does not allow the holder to make any decisions without such declaration.

Anyone finding themselves in a situation of this type needs to contact an atty prior to making any assumptions.

My recommendation is to encourage him to continue with th eprogram he’s enrolled in at the therapy center, attend the meetings with him, and let the therapists make the judgement. Until the therapsts declare him ready to drive again and he’s received his license back you could always disable the garage door.

Frankly, this guy sounds like someone who would plow through the garage door.

Perhaps. But the folks in the rehab programs are trained and experienced in working with individuals who may want to drive even though they’re incapable. They have the expertise, the skills, and the safe driiving environment to demonstrate to the individual that they relaly are unsafe, and to deal woth the resulting depression. I think the best thing the OP can do is to work closely with them.

In my dad’s case I brought his car to my house until he ultimately came to accept that he could no longer drive. Then my mom, who had POA, sold it from my place. Perhaps that’s an idea the OP could use. Perhaps I should have suggested moving the car to a relative’s house. OP?

Thankfully, the problem with my grandmother, and her Alzheimer’s disease, solved itself. Since she lived in an assisted living center, there was a combination to the door that led to the parking lot. First, she couldn’t remember the four digit combination. Next, she lost her keys and her license. We never found them, even after she died. Once she lost her keys and license, my mother was able to convince her to sell the car. However, she didn’t remember being convinced and signing the title, so we caught hell afterward, but by then there was nothing to do about it.

I agree the OP should avail herself/himself of the professional help available, both medical and legal, but those take time, and the issue of public safety won’t wait.

I am for most intents and purposes blind in one eye. I have lived in a variety of states, and I have faced minimal requirements such as a driver side mirror to legally blind and no license granted. If you want the car not to drive take out the battery. I am living with my old folks and think you need to address the issue with your dad as far as you cannot drive anymore. My dad no longer drives, my mom 88 does but it is getting close to the time we will be at the crossroad you are now. If they can get a license and insurance, that is good for them, but not for you, I worry more about other people getting hurt. I put on my blinders and let it go for now, but there will come a day soon I have to deal with the get rid of the car decision. it is not easy and good luck in your efforts.