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How do you handle the guilt?
We recently told my grandmother that she cannot be driving anymore. Three different doctors had recommended that at her stage of dementia she should no longer drive, so we decided to go ahead and have the conversation with her. She cried. All she kept saying is "I'm a good driver, I've never done anything wrong." ect.... And she's right. She hasn't crashed or gotten into a wreck. Recently she has run over large curbs and things like that, so we didn't want to risk a more severe situation. I know this is doctors orders and I know that this is in the best interest for her and everyone else on the road. But it hurts to see her upset. She's sad and feels like we are punishing her. It hurts to think that she drove for the last time and didn't even know it would be the last time.
How have you all handled this guilt? It really hurts to see her so sad about losing her independence so suddenly.
I looked at most of such things like dealing with a toddler you have to protect. Sometimes they get upset because you don’t let them play in the road, or because they are not allowed to play “House” with cleaning chemicals. Yes, they are upset, but it’s for their own protection and benefit, as well as others safety.
You know what else is sad? I live in a big retiree area. Regularly the news shows an elder in the courtroom, or in handcuffs, or sobbing on the street, because “I never had a problem driving before,” “I just stopped for a second,” “I thought this was my turn,” etc..
They are being arrested, or hearing a jail sentence, or being they’ve lost everything in a lawsuit, because they caused damage or worse in a car accident. Quite often they say they’ve had no “big” problems driving, but here they are.
Even little accidents can get big when lawyers, looking for easy money, see where a senior was involved in an accident. If their doctor advised no driving, it gets much worse, real fast.
You are protecting your LO from having to go through that. Keep the car out of sight, and soon (sadly) she will forget about this issue.
Yes, it’s hard. But now we have to protect them like they protected us.
It hurts to see our LO upset, but, I'd try to focus on the positive, since, she has avoided hurting herself or anyone else on the road. I agree with others about what kind of horrible situation she would be in, if she hurt someone and they discovered that she had been told not to drive. Plus, how culpable are her caregivers? You did the right thing.
I would feel guilty, if I stood by and did not intervene. Also, keep in mind that she will forget this sadness and disappointment. Most seniors realize that they can't drive forever, but, with dementia, they can no longer process the reasoning of why they can no longer do it. It's not fair, but, it's the right thing.
hillybean, I know how you feel. We had to take away my sister's car keys for the same reason. I felt horrible about it, and she felt like she was being punished for something she didn't even do. She even said "but I didn't do anything wrong!" And she hadn't done anything wrong - yet. By her own admission, she couldn't see the white lines on the dark asphalt, so she was an accident waiting to happen.
Like everyone has said though, it's about keeping your LO safe, and those around your LO safe.
The way we got around it was to agree that if there's a cure, and she is cured, she can drive again, so the prohibition doesn't sound so final or absolute. No one is kidding themselves here, we both know the chances of a cure are slim (but not zero!). This is more about saving face, giving hope, and accepting the situation. If those kinds of bargains make her feel better, then I'm okay with it.