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Obsessed with Car and wanting to Drive
First time posting. Sorry for the long winded post. My hope is to give context on my dilemma.
My mom and aunt live together. My mom is 83 and aunt is 79. My aunt has had dementia of some type for 3+ years. Never diagnosed with what type. I would say she's in the middle stage. My mom had my aunt move in with her last January to help take care of her. Unfortunately, my mom was recently (July) diagnosed with likely a mixed dementia, vascular dementia and Alzheimer's. She is in the early stages but it progressed very quickly beginning in May. I was lucky to get her into a neurologists office and had her tested (most testing appts. have a 6 month wait). We had been waiting 6 months to see the neurologist and the date was nearing. I called a begged them to let her get tested so the neurologist could diagnose appropriately. We also had MRI and head CT scan reports to give him. She was in agreement with this as she noticed her memory was suddenly way off. We spent a good hour with the Psychiatrist who gently buy firmly explained my mom's results. She told my mom it's best that she no longer drive (she hadn't driven since May at this time) and should no longer be living alone or taking care of her sister. My mom was very accepting of all of this during the visit yet once we left, she told me that she never asked to be tested and she doesn't believe the doctor nor does she accept that she should no longer drive.
Here's where the problem lies. My aunt's son and I are only children. All of their needs lie with us. The sisters are very close. We have managed to let them stay together for now and continue to live in my mom's home. I tried to get my mom to live with me but after 2 weeks she argued and wanted to be with her sister who was staying with her son until he could get her into a nursing home. We have safety items in place for stove and electronic medication dispenser, camera monitoring in living room and kitchen. We have managed to increase caregivers coming 2x per day making sure meds are taken and meals are given when we can't be there. This came with great resistance however that's gotten better.
My mom has still not driven since May and is accusing me of hiding her keys. We disconnected the battery in the car to be safe in case she "found" her key. We have the RING doorbell and have been able to witness their frustration on remote video on trying different keys on several occasions. Car registration was due for renewal in Aug. She never paid the renewal. She hid the bill. I saw it and said nothing. I manage her finances. I cancelled the registration and insurance just a week ago. The car has a key fob and honestly, I found my mom's key and believe she doesn't realize it belongs to her car. I said nothing about finding it. I left it where she put it. She insists that the car in the driveway is hers and replaced two other cars that she had been driving till about 2 weeks ago. This is untrue and she can be delusional at times. My cousin showed her the video cam and tried to explain that there is no other car and that she was the last one to drive it in May. She believes the video is fake, even when she sees herself on camera. We are at a loss. My mom becomes so angry that I don't know what to do. She believes my cousin and I are in cahoots and are preventing her from driving. This takes place about 2x per week. She gets herself all worked up and there's no reasoning with her. She believes the doctor who told her she should no longer drive is "MY" doctor and is a quack. I have tried calmly to reason with her and sympathize with her on her loss of independence and often take them out and offer to drive them wherever they want to go. The caregivers are also able to take them out. She wants no part of having to go with others. She wants to go herself. I'm almost tempted to let her "find" the key and drive the car. I honestly don't think she would know how to start the car using the fob or how to find the market.
In the past year, prior to diagnosis, she had 2 incidents resulting in broken side mirrors and denies that it was her fault. She insists someone must've drove into her driveway and did the damage. I'm at a loss. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Do we have a police officer come to the house and tell her? Do we let her "try" to drive? Do we have the car towed and put somewhere (out of sight, out of mind) and watch her go off the deep end? I'm not sure my cousin and I can continue to go through these serious arguments relating to driving any longer. Thank you.
Hi DotBern - welcome to 'here', but sorry for the reason...
So sorry to hear about mom and aunt. That is a lot to handle.
Your mom has anosognosia. It is not denial, but rather, the total belief that nothing is wrong.
Do not reason with her. You cannot reason with someone whose reasoning is broken. It will only leave her more angry, and both of you frustrated.
The best you can do with the car would be to remove it if at all possible. Learn to use fiblets. Lots of fiblets. The car has been recalled and is at the shop. The part is on backorder. The car isn't running and had to be taken to the shop and the part is on backorder... whatever works. Good for you for not allowing the driving! To answer your question - no... no driving. Besides not wanting anything to happen to mom or someone else, at this point, if anything should happen, insurance would probably not even cover it.
Glad the caregiving acceptance has gotten better. Can use fiblets for that as well - The caregiver needs hours in for certification and your mom is helping them with that. The caregiver is there to help mom because insurance is requesting it. again, whatever works.
this is hard. and yeah, we hate it!
I’m sorry you find yourself amongst us, but glad you came and shared.
My first thought is that going forward there’s no form of reason that will be helpful to any of you. I have found validating my mom’s feelings and even accepting blame for the accusations works. Calming her is my goal, trying reason only made her more stubborn and angry. The reasoning ship has sailed. Therapeutic fibs are needed unfortunately even when they seem to add more craziness to this journey, our journeys…maybe I’ll call it a calm crazy journey, but I could use more calm and less crazy.
I’m sending you and your cousin positive thoughts.
I'm sorry you and your cousin are going through this with both of your mothers.
Please read up on anosognosia, you can no longer have logic based discussions, that will result in arguments as their brains can't process choices, remember etc. The more you confront issues head on the more resistance you will have getting anything done. They remember the feelings not the words or the thought processes.
You mention you "manage" your Mom's finances - but she had the car registration bill hidden.
Do you have DPOA and a health care proxy? If not, first step for you [and your cousin for his mom-if he hasn't already ] , separately, is to get with an Elder Law attorney and get the right documents drawn up (while she still can) to be able to manage your mother's affairs, see if medicaid planning is needed etc. Helping with writing checks is different than total financial control which sounds needed.
When you have the proper authority you'll need to get all her mail sent to you, follow the lawyer's advise on how accounts should be titled , sometimes banks need to be changed to avoid your mother calling and trying to access her funds, [keeping her SS deposit bank acct where it is may be prudent but move the funds out to avoid her accessing them], freezing credit is a good idea.
Some people barrel ahead and do these things without the proper triggered authority but if your mother fights it you'll look bad to a judge . And there's no middle ground on managing - it will grind you up and you'll be fighting bureaucracy -having the right documents is the key--since there are no cures, no U-turns.
The car is a worry-- it's now uninsured and non registered - so fines are probably piling up that need to be paid before you can sell or donate it. How can you let anyone test drive it or get it to a dealer with no tags , no insurance? Have the lawyer give you advise on the best way to get this liability removed now -- if it is the driveway - what if someone steals it [car thieves are good with tools ] When you have the DPOA you'll be able to sign the pink slip yourself
Reading about dementia and getting with a good elder law attorney will get you up to speed and plan for the future . Following and posting here will give you advise, support and understanding from those of us on the same, but every person different, path no one ever wants.
Thank you for your responses. They were very helpful. I need to get better at telling fiblets, for sure! I like the idea of telling her the car needs repairs and having it towed - to my house. I think I can try to "help" her find the key and basically lead her to where I know it is. When she try's to start it, it won't start because we disconnected the battery. This can be my "out" to have it towed and repaired. I can keep using the excuse that parts are on backorder. She isn't good at time loss, so I can act like the car has only been in the shop for a week or so even if it's been a month. She wouldn't remember.
In some ways, not remembering can be helpful. A few times, she was so angry with me that I was fearful to return to visit and when I did return a couple of days later, she had totally forgotten she was angry with me. Whew!
Thank you. I totally agree, keeping things calm is my goal as well. I guess I need to widen my shoulders to carry the blame for things. I get it. If it works, do it. It's been a struggle and a challenge to "take over" decision making for my mom. She has always been fiercely independent and never like being told what to do. I'm learning. This group is wonderful support.
Thank you! Very sound advice. Since Susan mentioned anosognosia, I have looked it up and read more about it. I always thought she was in denial but now I see her actions in a whole new light. It's been very helpful. I will write to her PCP (who is fairly new) prior to her next appt. and let him know what I'm dealing with so he is aware.
I do have DPOA and Health Care Proxy, thankfully! My cousin has Health Care Proxy for his mom. My mom has greater financial stability than his mom but I agree he should get DPOA. Unfortunately, I believe it's too late for his mom to be capable of signing the paperwork. I appreciate your thoughts on contacting an elder care lawyer. I actually reached out today to the attorney who drew up the DPOA etc. and he confirmed I'm covered. But he also, made other suggestions about her finances which I will follow.
Thank you all for your help and advice. I, too, am sorry that we are all in this boat. It's not easy! But having support from this group is a blessing!
Most of us have to use therapeutic fibs and work arounds for everything. Bathing, doctor's appts, driving, where's the thing you misplaced, the helpers coming to the home. Take blame, agree, don't present evidence or argue it will accomplish nothing. Have the car taken away while someone else has mom out of the house. Send it to "the shop" for repair that is taking a long time. The supply chain issues have really delayed those parts. Eventually out of sight will mean out of mind. Maybe the caregivers are a cleaning person like someone you hired as a gift for her birthday. Or someone from church volunteering or a nursing student who needs contact hours with seniors or someone down on hard times you are helping out with some odd jobs. Find whatever fibs work in each situation.
Is it possible you could move them to a memory care facility together? They're going to need round the clock supervision soon if they don't already. Managing home care is a lot for the family, though maybe with you and your cousin working together you could do it. Vetting numerous staff, making sure they aren't stealing or providing bad care, filling in when someone calls in sick etc. Soon their dementia will bring incontinence, wandering, and the need for constant supports, routine, and entertainment. Sounds like you and your cousin need to figure out what the long range goal is and go from there. Your mom is probably feeling very very lost. The middle stages when they still realize things aren't right are hard. Sounds like perhaps she is in stage 5 which for us was the most challenging phase. My mom was argumentative, anxious, and still with it enough to know she was not happy about this or that and threaten to leave and make crazy plans that she forgot an hour later. It does get a bit easier when they progress and no longer know what they don't know, their whole world changes. Though of course it brings new problems. Anyway, good luck and let us know how things go. This car piece is just one bump in a very long road and doing some reading about dementia and planning will go a long ways. I found the book The 36 Hour Day to be very helpful with both.
If you search my name, you'll see I'm dealing with some of the same things you are. The car is our major issue right now. I took my mom's keys after she got lost in July. She wore me down by calling all the time. She said she would feel better if her car was in the garage and she knew it was safe. As soon as I took it back to her house, she called every day demanding her keys. At some point she forgot I took the keys, but thought there was a problem with it being locked (she must have accidentally locked it) and started calling locksmiths to come open it for her. I knew then I had to get the car out of there, so I told her we were putting it in the shop to fix the "lock" problem. I keep hoping she'll reach a point where she forgets about it, but so far she is still obsessed and it's been almost a month. To her, two days can seem like two weeks, so I've been afraid she's going to catch on to the fact that it's been so long. I've told her the part is on backorder. Just yesterday, she was talking like we had just taken the car in the day before. On the one hand, I feel good about that, because I don't have to worry about her knowing it's been so long. On the other hand, she still is not forgetting about it. I like Victoria2020's idea of it being "stolen" if you can manage that. You can either continue to say that haven't found it yet or you can say it was totaled and that would be the end of it. Of course, you would have to keep reminding her it was totaled.
Thanks MN Chickadee.
Great suggestions. Thank you. I would love to move them into a memory unit together. They refuse to leave my mom's home. I took them to visit a place close by. They wanted no part of it. It was a waste of time. I know there will come a time or an incident will occur and the decision will then be made to move them. For now, we are managing to keep them safe, somewhat happy, getting their meds regularly and meals consistently. The car is the current BIG hurdle. I agree, getting the car out of there is important. Out of sight, out of mind. I think sitting there is a constant reminder to her that she isn't driving. I look forward to reading your suggested book The 36 hour day.
Thanks to all of your responses.
I told mom I would like to help her find her car keys. I carefully led her to where I knew the car keys were (hidden in my aunts coin purse). I said, "mom, Patty, look it's your purse we've been missing for so long" and when I gave her the purse, I had them check to see if she left money in it. Of course the keys were in it and it was interesting to see my mom did not recognize the key fob. She had been looking for an actually key. I then said, "mom, look it's your car key!". She had no idea that was a car key. I asked her to go check and see if the car would start. I could see she feared trying to start it because I don't think she knew how. She asked my aunt to try it and of course, my aunt is further into dementia than my mom and had no idea what she was being asked to do. My cousin went out and started the car (which we had disabled). We then told her the battery needed replacing and the side mirrors needed repair and we should get it towed and fixed. She was ok with that. We then called AAA. They came and took the car to my home where I will get it covered and hidden out back until we decide to sell it. My hope is that she will slowly forget about the car and all will be OK. But like LaurieRZ, she may not. But I agree that they don't often have a grasp on how much time has passed.
Thank you all for your help in my journey. Your responses were so helpful.
I agree, they are not interested in moving to assisted living either. We have been successful in getting caregivers in the home 6 hours per day, 3 in the am and 3 in the early evening by using the other one as the "one who needs extra help". It did help putting the necessary needs of the other sister as the excuse to get care. I am there from noon on Mon till noon on Tues. and also all day on Friday's as well as for doctor appts as needed. My cousin lives within a 3 minute drive away. He checks on them often when they are alone. They are doing well for the time being with all the necessary safety precautions in place. Life Alert, stove turns off automatically when someone walks away from the stove. Electronic, locked, alarm sounding pill dispensers and camera's on both exits as well as cameras indoors to make sure they are OK when alone.
We realize we are probably kicking the can down the road until someone needs to move in full time or they move to an assisted living arrangement. For now, we are doing OK and will cross the next bridge when it's needed.
Well we moved it to the side yard and will put a cover on it. Being behind the gate I told him it was safer than in the driveway. I know it won't end but I was afraid that because I haven't POA I could have a problem with hiding it at sons house. I also sent a form in to DMV to have him retested. I'm hoping he will go in for the tests.
This car business is really hard to deal with. At least I have one day behind me without a fight. On to the next problem