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Driving the car
mcrandall
Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2019 12:57 PM
Joined: 9/10/2019
Posts: 1


My mother-in-law was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's a few years ago. The three children (siblings) have all notice a decline in memory and daily task. She has very good days and then very bad days. Recently she was escorted home by a police office after making a poor driving decision by pulling in front of some on coming traffic. She could not remember where she was supposed to be going when the officer pulled her over. My sister-in-law was called and she was escorted home. The three children decided that it was time to take the vehicle away.

After just a day of the vehicle being gone we all got consistent calls from her because she could not remember where or what happen with the vehicle. She was becoming very upset, irritated, and very angry about not having the car.  They came up with a story that the vehicle was in the shop. Of course she could not remember this and was calling sometimes pass midnight wondering where the vehicle was. It came such a distressing time for her that they decided to give the vehicle back and put it in the garage. They now are working on that she is only allowed to drive the vehicle when someone is with her.

This seems to work pretty well except when she is home alone during the day. The keys are hidden from her so that she is unable to drive the vehicle. She calls everyone about not remembering where to she put the keys and gets very disappointed in herself for losing the keys.  We all know that she did not lose them but they were hidden so she could not drive while the oldest son is at work.

She is starting to loose confidence in herself because she keeps "losing," the keys.

Is this the right approach when it comes to driving the vehicle? We do not want her to hurt herself, others, or get lost but at the same time we do not want her to feel disappointed in the matter that she cannot find the keys each day.

We know that if we tell her that she is not allowed to drive alone any more that she would forget and just go for a drive anyways.

Does anyone else have experience on what to do when it comes to taking keys away/supervised driving. Is there a better approach for this?

 

Thank you for your help,


RobOT
Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2019 1:46 PM
Joined: 3/12/2017
Posts: 28


McCrandall--Hoo boy, this driving stuff is the hardest!  As American adults our identity is all wrapped up in being independent, and driving is so basic to that.  My experience with my dad was really tough, even though I think he knew he shouldn't be driving.  He'd get lost, he drove on the wrong side of the road and scared himself (and probably some other people) silly, and he'd forget to turn the car off when he got home.  After he agreed to stop driving we gave him a fake key because he'd forget and get in the car to "go get a hamburger".  He called a locksmith from the dealer.  That was getting pretty frustrating for everyone, so we finally talked him into selling the car to a friend who "needed a safe car for his wife".  I finally wound up buying a car with a push button start, and he hasn't figured that out yet.  By the way, I also got the new car because he had a hard time getting in and out of my car--it was too low--but that didn't stop him from trying to use my car when he thought no one was watching.  

It sounds like you're MIL shouldn't be driving at all, either.  If somebody has POA you can just sell the car, but you'll need a good story to go along with that! This is so hard, good luck.


Victoria2020
Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2019 4:11 PM
Joined: 9/21/2017
Posts: 834


mcrandall wrote:

My mother-in-law was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's a few years ago. The three children (siblings) have all notice a decline in memory and daily task. She has very good days and then very bad days. Recently she was escorted home by a police office after making a poor driving decision by pulling in front of some on coming traffic. ...

  It came such a distressing time for her that they decided to give the vehicle back and put it in the garage. They now are working on that she is only allowed to drive the vehicle when someone is with her.....

We do not want her to hurt herself, others, or get lost but at the same time we do not want her to feel disappointed in the matter that she cannot find the keys each day.....

We know that if we tell her that she is not allowed to drive alone any more that she would forget and just go for a drive anyways.

Does anyone else have experience on what to do when it comes to taking keys away/supervised driving. Is there a better approach for this?

 

 
Hi mcrandall-
 
I think that the family needs to do some reading on Alzheimer's and its progression, especially the early onset variety- which can be faster moving. Has she been seen lately by a doctor, her progression tested?
 
The siblings seem to still be reacting to the old days- make Mama happy and don't have a realistic vision that her brain and her driving skills are impacted by her relentlessly progressive disease.
 
Oh she sounds the same, like when she wanted something in 1990 but the brain behind the requests can't make rational choices. 
 
Did she do any of the legal paperwork appointing a DPOA? The siblings need to see an elder care lawyer to discuss current and future options. This won't get better , only worse, through time.
 
My mind boggles at the driving is ok if someone in the car with her--- would you get in the car with a drunk friend driving- because you are in the seat next to them?
 
Financially, the children could be  on the hook for letting her drive.
 
I'm surprised the police didn't file a license suspension pending a reevaluation.I guess they trusted the family to step in and take over.
 
There is a huge education cliff the family has to climb to learn to make the hard choices ahead.
 
For safety, the car needs to go, she can have a dummy set of keys to hold onto for when the car is "repaired." After a while, no car- she'll forgot. With the dummy keys she'll be able to hold them. (Dealers, auto shops  sell blanks).
 
Second, have her evaluated , maybe the test results will help to illustrate to the kids they are the adults now and they have to protect, not please Mom. Doctor  may prescribe something to help with her agitation.
 
Third, is she safe alone at home all day? Is she wandering?
 
Safety not feelings is what matters now.
 
(You could file an unsafe driver report with the DMV but since the car can be removed and she can be given dummy keys on her familiar key ring- maybe you can let that ordeal go. The lawyer will be able to advise on if legal to sell/gift the car).
 
I'm sorry this is happening to your family. The Alz Asoc has a help line and the family can call for information, resources etc. Very helpful.

BikerNurse412
Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2019 10:04 AM
Joined: 6/13/2019
Posts: 17


My Mom and her driving was the hardest for me. However, after discussing it with my brother and sister, I decided on leaving the car at her home but taking her keys. I did leave the key fob on her keyring. I simply put the key in an envelope and wrote on it why I had done it and how sorry I was that it had to be done. I put it in her gun safe in the garage, which she thinks she has the combination to but doesn't. I have the only spare set o  my keyring. 

It was actually about a month before she even noticed and we had our fight over it. After a few minutes of this fight, I was about to lose it and went and got the key and let her read the envelope. By this point, we were both in tears. She read what I wrote about why and how bad it hurt me to have to to do it, and picked up a pen. 

She wrote "I agree." Then signed her name. But she always wants her car in her driveway because it looks like someone is home. That's a security thing for her. 

Hope this helps. 


BikerNurse412
Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2019 10:04 AM
Joined: 6/13/2019
Posts: 17


My Mom and her driving was the hardest for me. However, after discussing it with my brother and sister, I decided on leaving the car at her home but taking her keys. I did leave the key fob on her keyring. I simply put the key in an envelope and wrote on it why I had done it and how sorry I was that it had to be done. I put it in her gun safe in the garage, which she thinks she has the combination to but doesn't. I have the only spare set o  my keyring. 

It was actually about a month before she even noticed and we had our fight over it. After a few minutes of this fight, I was about to lose it and went and got the key and let her read the envelope. By this point, we were both in tears. She read what I wrote about why and how bad it hurt me to have to to do it, and picked up a pen. 

She wrote "I agree." Then signed her name. But she always wants her car in her driveway because it looks like someone is home. That's a security thing for her. 

Hope this helps. 


PazPaloma
Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2019 4:02 PM
Joined: 9/11/2019
Posts: 1


I agree that this topic of driving is so difficult to manage and it seems to me that there are not any real answers to this situation. We all have to try and figure out what works for our individual situations and continually adjust to changes. My dad and I thought we finally had a plan in place. When my mom and dad are home together, he simply drives her wherever she needs to go and when he isn't home, he takes the keys to her car and if she calls looking for them, he pretends that he has the keys by accident. 

After a recent Memory Care appointment (with neurologist) we discussed my mom's need to have someone drive her to exercise classes, hair salon, senior center, etc and my mom stated (like she always does) that she is fine to drive and has never been in a car accident. We all gently reminded her that she had a past evaluation by a neuropsychologist that determined she should not be driving. We tried to set up a plan for a companion or a driver to take her places when my dad has other commitments.

This stirred up a lot of emotions for my mom. I am confident that she does not remember much of the conversation but she does remember how this interaction made her feel- like she was losing all independence...and so now she is insisting on driving herself, even if my dad offers to drive her wherever she wants to go! She insists and protests and argues that she is fine to drive and my dad feels helpless to stop her. Just today when he returned home, she took the car keys from him and said, "I am going to the supermarket alone! I don't like this idea that I can't do anything by myself!"

We feel so helpless to keep her safe and others on the road. 

 


caregiving daughter
Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2019 4:54 PM
Joined: 11/27/2012
Posts: 2065


You need to figure out what will work for your mom--car in shop, blocking car in with other auto behind, disabling the car in the driveway. If complaining gets to be too much, bring over your friend's new puppy. When my mom learned the special driving assessment for her would be $350 she gave up the car on her own due to her frugality. I'm sorry to say that there will be constant complaining about a variety of areas during the journey. You just got to keep focusing on keeping your loved one safe and doing the right thing. When I feel guilty about all this, I remember my teen now driving and worry about others on the road.
Rescue mom
Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2019 5:02 PM
Joined: 10/12/2018
Posts: 885


There are no easy answers. One of the hardest things about this disease is that we have to become the parent. Like dealing with little kids, sometimes they don’t like what you do, but you still have to do it for their own best interests. You take the keys, you disable the card, or take it away. You do something, because they no longer can. You must protect them now.

If the LO with dementia causes any damage, not only do you have to live with the guilt, but be assured there could well be a lawsuit that costs you everything. Lawyers look for accidents like this, and will urge injured parties to sue. (Not casting blame on lawyers, it involves the law). You let or enabled a person with dementia to drive? It’s your fault as much as theirs, maybe more so. But you can all lose everything.

With cars, many times out of sight means out of mind. Don’t just hide the keys, take the car somewhere else. Soon enough they’ll forget.

Don’t just tell them they cannot drive. They will not remember, or cannot comprehend. Yea, they may be upset and angry for a while. That’s better than seeing them in a courtroom, on TV news, staring while being convicted of a crime. Maybe murder. I live in a retirement area, and that absolutely does happen. 

Yes they will be upset at not having the car. They will soon forget and/or get past it. Even upset for a while is better than losing all your money to a lawsuit, or the guilt you/caregivers would have when something bad happens.

 


Eric L
Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2019 10:05 AM
Joined: 12/5/2014
Posts: 1078


Learning how to be "in charge" is the steepest part of the dementia learning curve. One of the most valuable lessons that you can learn is that often, it is very difficult to please someone with dementia. When you fully grasp that, it really helps make your decisions a little bit easier. Well, none of this is ever easy. But if you know going in and are able to accept that Mom is probably going to be upset, you'll be able to hold firm in your decision.

Just think about this situation. The car was put somewhere else. Mom was upset. The car was put back, but the keys were hidden. Mom was upset. She's going to be upset about the driving issue no matter what you do. In the long run, making the car disappear and using a fib like "it's at the shop, waiting for parts" until she kind of forgets about it is probably best.

We were pretty lucky in our case. MIL knew something was wrong with her and had been lost a couple of times. Wife and BIL took away the keys. She wasn't happy about it, but she had just enough cognition still that she remembered getting lost. A few weeks after they took away the keys, she told my BIL "Hey, I can still drive, I just get lost". Next time he went to the store, he let her drive. He said it was one of the scariest experiences he has ever had in a car. She never drove again.
GemsWinner12
Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2019 4:41 PM
Joined: 7/17/2017
Posts: 357


Yes, taking away the car keys can be a difficult hurdle. I think you might have confused her by taking it away then "almost" giving it back.  With my Mom, I thought I took away the keys when I told her the car was in the shop and the parts were on backorder, but heck if she didn't have THREE more sets of keys!!  
Somebody who doesn't know who is President and can't tell you her own address should not be driving; that was my Mom.  I have no guilt about taking away her keys and telling her the car was in the shop, removing it from her line of vision, and telling her the parts were backordered (we don't know when those parts are coming in, but I'll let you know, Mom.).  She had a few fender-benders and unexplained dents in the car, to boot. It really was for everyone's safety. It's simply too easy to mis-judge distances or step on the gas instead of the brakes at a moment's notice.  You could be saving her life, or the lives of other innocent people; you're doing the right thing.  

 
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