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How do I respond when my husband gets upset that he can't drive?

Answered by Karen Garner

February 5, 2015

My husband has an issue with his car keys and his car. He hasn’t driven in over two years now. He gets upset saying I (his wife) took his car and keys. Once, he told his brother he was going to call the police on me to teach me a lesson. How do I handle the car keys/car issue?

This is such a common problem, yet that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with when it is your loved one. First, good for you for taking that hard step of taking the car keys away. You (and your husband) would have had to live with a lot of regrets and guilt if he had kept driving and hurt someone else or himself. Secondly, stay the course. Just keep in mind the bigger picture when he gets upset. Focus on the fact he isn’t really upset with you, he is upset his independence has been taken away by this horrible disease. He misses being the person he was. That won’t necessarily make it a walk in the park when he is saying these hurtful things to you, but if you can bare through the times he is like this, know you have done the right thing and continue to do so.

I have a friend whose father found the car keys after not driving for several years, took the car and they didn’t find him until the next morning. He had frozen to death during the night. She lives with that thought to this day and uses it to remind caregivers how important it is to be diligent about taking and keeping the keys away.

Thoughts and stories from others

  1. April 10, 2015 at 09:58 pm
    Posted by Patti Bunston

    When I was Caregiving for my best friend who had a massive brain tumour called gioblastoma the worse day of her life was when her car was taken away from the driveway and sold. Her heart was broken as that was the final straw of her independence. She brought up this issue many times before her death - even when the brain could not make sense of any of it. She would get angry that her husband had taken away her car. Then in lucid moments she realized that she could not be driving. Have patience - this too will pass. How much time it will take - I do not know the answer
  2. March 11, 2015 at 04:29 pm
    Posted by Christina Souter

    The question of how to handle the no driving was something that my husband Al and I had to deal with when his license was taken. He was so upset that he wanted to get even with his doctor and he had never had even a violent thought before this. I had a lot of talking to do with him but as he got more adamant that he be allowed to drive I was able to let him sit in the car without the keys in the yard. I would just tell him that I had to find the keys and would be out soon. Later I had to lock the car because he would try to fix the car and get under the hood. I miss Al
  3. March 11, 2015 at 02:46 pm
    Posted by Stephanie

    When we thought it was time for dad to stop driving we removed the spark plugs from his car. My dads hobby had been tinkering with cars for years so we knew if he couldn't figure out what was wrong...it was time!

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