When It’s Time to Take the Keys Away

When to Have the Conversation

For years, clients have been asking Tim Tholen, CEO and Founder of Thoughtful Health Care and its affiliates in Kansas City about the issue of driving.  How do we know when– and how—to take the keys away?  In the “When Driving Becomes too Dangerous” video, Tim helps identify and address some of these issues to help family members take control of a potentially dangerous situation.

Watch the “When Driving Becomes Too Dangerous” video below:

Driving with Dementia

Because driving is so essential to our lives in the Midwest, it can be a painful thing to recognize when it’s time to stop driving. Being able to drive means getting to work, seeing family, doing the things that need to get done every day. In other words, driving is deeply connected to identity and independence.

For people with dementia, however, there is a time when driving has to stop.

Families of a person with dementia often have to intervene to ensure the safety of their loved one. At what point does a family decide to take the keys away?

First, identify the signals that it is time:

  • Any admission that driving is nerve-wracking is an opportunity to have the conversation about finding other solutions.
  • If the loved one has trouble while driving– drifting into other lanes, forgetting the destination etc… it might be time to make a change.
  • Check the meds. Any medications that have warning labels to indicate that it’s time to let someone else take the wheel should be taken seriously.
  • If you hear talk about going “home” when the person lives at home, recognize that it’s a signal that wandering might occur. If the person with dementia tries to find “home” outside of the home, it’s time to take the car keys to prevent them from driving
  • Conversations about going to work when work is long over. Again, this is a signal that the loved one will begin to wander.

The Big Talk

Focusing on the safety of your loved one will help set the tone of the conversation. Don’t expect this conversation to be easy, and stick to your convictions. Mention your concern for other drivers and pedestrians as well. Consider whether any of the above indicators signal the need for action, and refer to those facts.

When you take action, actions may include: locking the keys in a combination safe so that the person with dementia doesn’t see them lying around, unplugging the battery to the car, or changing the garage door code. Taking the keys is an indicator that your loved one may need more care at home. Our professional caregivers at Thoughtful Health Care are here to support your family in caring for a loved one. Please feel free to contact us for more information.

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For more information about Thoughtful Care visit the Thoughtful Healthcare website.