If you know she has mental decline, she gets in an accident because you have provided her with a car... That is neglect and a great liability to you. Your hubby is right on that one. Yes, there are normal routine things that they can accomplish because they pull from their long term memory that is still there. She has probably been in her house for years and years and the glasses are in the same place they were 20 years ago. It is the short term memory and judgment that goes first.
My Dad could drive a car, the actually mechanics of turning it on, putting it in gear, driving down the road until well into his dementia. But I would no more trust him on the road than I would a 5 year old. His ability to handle anything beyond sending that car in one direction was completely impaired. Mom was the same way. Yes she could physically drive the car but mentally she was incapable of being responsible for driving.
Mom drove the hour to a doctor's appointment and decided to go shopping. She hit a car in a parking lot, drove off, and went home. Somebody saw her, got her tag number, and it was hit and run. She had no memory of it every happening so those people were "crazy". She constantly backed out of the drive way, into the road, without stopping or looking. The neighbor's new to dodge or stop when she started backing out. She ran over a cute little statue of three children. Crushed it flat, never stopped, and had no idea that it had happened. Just glad that was not three children. There were random dings and dents on the van that she had no idea what happened. Beyond that she got lost a number of times on routes that she knew. As your Mom, she promised not to drive to certain places and she did anyway. The inability to find where they are going causes a problem as well as the fact that they don't remember what they promised you.
If you are able to keep the car away from here I would absolutely do it. Yes, it is one of the two hardest things you will have to do. The other is taking her out of the house for her own safety. But with the car, it is not just an issue of her safety. It is an issue of the safety of every other car around her. Just recently we had an 90 year old that killed a family of three because she was going the wrong way on an express way. She passed car after car with them honking, dodging, and waving at her... and she never seemed to realize that there was a problem... just speeding down the express way into oncoming traffic. Yep, she had early to mid stage dementia. It only takes one time to fill a lifetime with regrets.
Please talk to the physical therapist and tell her not to encourage the driving. If Mom insist then take her to a driving evaluation. You can find those though your department of motor vehicle or through the Alzheimer's Society. Let them evaluate her physical and cognitive abilities. They will tell her whether she is capable of driving or not and the monkey will be off your back.
Just know that this is the hardest but the most important step you need to take at this time. Yes, it does lesson their independence and makes their world smaller but it can save them... and others. Will she fuss.. UH HUH!!! My dad griped and complained and yelled and cursed and on and on for three years. I actually put his van keys in the casket with him so he would leave the angels alone about it
Mom called 911 and reported the van stolen... by her girls!! They fought us every step of the way for 3 years but never got their van back. There is a wonderful single mother with three kids that is enjoying it now
Not easy, but necessary!!
Keep posting... most of us have been where you are and know the pitfalls. Hate you need to be here but glad you found us.... Welcome!!!