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When Should You Take the Car Keys?

It's a fine line between protecting your parents and hindering them

Like many adult children, Jo Rinehart, 54, and her siblings balanced caring for their parents while respecting their independence. William Fresch, 85, and wife Betty, 79, could still drive themselves, but only to certain destinations.

The deal was negotiated last summer after the Shippensburg, Pa., couple got lost driving — William couldn't remember directions to their son's home. After a family gathering last Friday, the couple left their daughter's house to return home — usually a 40-minute drive.

They never made it. Their bodies were found Tuesday near their car about 60 miles away in Frederick County, Md.  

No one wants to be treated like they're incapable of taking care of themselves — much less by their own children. So Rinehart did what many adult children do. "It's hard to get people to do something they don't want to do," Rinehart told The Washington Post, "but we thought we had a system."

As AARP family expert Amy Goyer said recently, “sometimes you do the best you can and then you have to 'let go.' "

This is a fine line to navigate. But how do you know when to keep walking or cross that line and take away the car keys?

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