Ask Amy: Elder Mom Should Yield and Give Up Keys

By Amy Dickinson | June 2nd, 2021

When it's for the good of the driver AND others on the road...


Elder mom behind the wheel Image

Dear Amy: My very capable 87-year-old mom is becoming less capable. She lives alone in her home, which is mostly OK, but everything is a challenge for her, largely due to her failing eyesight.

She’s a computer whiz, but it has become very difficult for her to operate with the added security and other changes to the websites she’s always been able to use.

We’ve decided to move her closer to family, and when we do, we plan to take away the car keys.

She understands completely that the move is necessary, but we anticipate a battle about the keys.

Can you recommend a book or website that would be helpful for all of us (including my mom) to navigate the near future?

— Concerned Daughter


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Dear Concerned: Your mother’s physician could be very helpful in assessing her eyesight (and other physical factors) which would affect her ability to drive safely.

Moving to a new location provides opportunities for family members to persuade her to stop driving (without using the phrase, “We’re going to take away your keys”).

The roads will be unfamiliar, and she might see it as an overall hassle to have and maintain her own vehicle in her new home.

Both the AARP (AARP.org) and AAA (seniordriving.AAA.com) offer safe driving courses for older drivers, both in-person and online.

On the AAA site I reviewed the online “self-assessment,” which your mother should take a look at.

AAA also has a state-by-state listing of driver’s license renewal laws; if your mother is changing states, she should check the regulations regarding renewing her license. For senior drivers, most states seem to require in-person (not online or mail) renewal, with a vision test.

Please understand how challenging it is to surrender driving privileges.

Let your mother know that you realize this is very hard. Assure her that you will find and/or provide reliable transportation for her.

I have heard from many people over the years who — when all else fails — essentially disable the car.

Also, work with your mother on ways to increase her computer visibility. There are online (and keyboard) “fixes” for vision-impaired people.


In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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