Caring for Aging Parents — Taking the Car Keys

Kathi Wells Macomber
5 min readApr 9, 2022
Photo by Syed Hussaini on Unsplash

My sister was following my dad back to his house, when my dad took a left turn on red. Sitting in her own car, she was about to lose her mind. We knew dad was starting to make mistakes driving, but that error was beyond the little things we had noticed. When they got to his house, she tried to talk to him about the turn. He said it was perfectly fine. He sees people do it all the time. Now, in his defense, that could be true. The corner he turned on has a long light on the left turn lane. It is highly possible he had seen people impatiently take a left on red there. But thinking it was legal or safe was out of our sphere of reasoning. We were going to have to step up.

I did some research, and the statistics do not support regulating seniors driving legally. Older drivers tend to avoid conditions, such as night driving or long-distance driving, that cause accidents. Many seniors willingly give up driving when they realize they are impaired, leaving the more qualified seniors on the road. But still, according to a recent study connected by AAA, “seniors are outliving their ability to drive safely by an average of 7 to 10 years.” What age that is, or why one must give up driving, is different for everyone. We were confident that dad was past his time to still be driving. We didn’t want him to get into an accident and wish we had stopped him from driving sooner.

Both my sister and I started working on his logic and his heartstrings. “Dad, you could hurt yourself.” He replied over and over that he saw people much worse off than him still driving. Again, he was right. So many times, we see older people hunched over, shuffling along in a parking lot, looking like they can barely see three feet in front of their face, get into their car and drive away. My dad was still walking upright. He was strong from exercising regularly. He could see and hear perfectly well. Physically, he looked good. I clearly had to concede his point.

But still, his decision-making was impaired. A once sharp man who had to make quick decisions as an educator, administrator, and father, now took his time thinking carefully over even little things. Simply choosing what he wanted in a new restaurant could take some time. In fact, anytime we were anywhere new, he had a hard time. We tried to point that out to him, but he came back…

Kathi Wells Macomber

We are full time RVing. We hope to see 49 state in the next few years. I am writing about our adventures as well as my time as a caregiver for my father.