Taking Away an Aging Parent’s Keys

The day I hesitated before putting my children in the car with my dad, was the day I realized that it was time for dad to stop driving. I knew though that he wasn’t going to give up driving without a fight and I wanted to be prepared with resources to make the transition for him as easy as possible.

Convincing an elderly relative to give up their keys can be a sensitive situation and can lead to family quarrels, yet it is one of the most important deliberations, considerations and possible actions one might face as it concerns the health and safety of the aging parent as well as anyone around them.

One might begin by suggesting a mature driver’s course. Then perhaps calling local agencies on aging to find out what transportation resources they may recommend. Check into things like Dial-A-Ride, public transit, specialized transit (door-to-door service typically by minibuses) and even volunteers who provide chauffeur service. Talk to your siblings, children and other relatives to be volunteer drivers when in need.

Remember that you are not only taking away the car keys, but also your parent’s sense of independence. Find a tactful, loving way to approach the topic. Involve mom or dad in the consideration and decision. You may find a positive reaction when talking candidly with them, and they will understand your care and concern for their safety.

Of course, the resistance may also come from siblings or other relatives who may be judgmental and even emphatic that the keys need not be taken away quite yet. When situations like this turn into family disputes, elder care mediators are prepared to guide families towards an amiable decision while being sure to maintain the aging parent’s dignity and family peace.


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