My mom's anger from Alzheimer's Disease is getting worse, specifically when we discuss her inability to drive. How do I deal with it?

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Mom is angry about all of it

Mom, 83 with significant AD per the doctors hasn't driven since June as I have seen to it. She has already forgotten the previous talk we had about her driving abilities and getting lost and my taking care of her since she has lived with me now since May '10. Today once again after our talk she tried to go to her car to go to the store for a laxative which the DR said she cannot have (doctors orders) and I asked her not to drive. She stormed threw her purse down and stormed out to the porch and sat. In a few minutes she came back in, picked up her purse, walked to her room (which is a bedroom, bathroom small kitchen area built onto house) and threw her purse into the air towards the ceiling and went to her room.
I let her have alone a little bit to cool off and then went talked to her about it trying to mostly listen, not trying to convince her of anything, not talking just listening and then sharing my concern for her safety and others while deriving. She blew up at me saying I wasn't trusting her and why would I think she can't do it any more she has been driving her whole life? I said none of us are young anymore and she had medical issues plus the AD I tried to explain due to the AD and she has got lost a few times that I didn't feel safe with her driving and that I love her and don't want anything to happen to her. She blew up some more saying she only got lost once (it's been several times but I didn't even go there and tell her) she told me I don't trust her. She asked how I knew she had AD and I said the Dr diagnosed her and she said that dr is crazy!!! On and on she went………… how do you deal with the anger in AD people when it happens? She has good days and bad days but the bad days are getting more frequent and more anger filled with throwing things

Answers 1 to 10 of 17
I have learned with my Mom just to keep my thoughts to myself-she always was difficult for me to get along with-but at least your Mom blew up but then calmed down-since it is not safe for her to drive can you give the car away or sell it or donate it-haveing it there for her to see probably is hard for her -of all the things we have to give up as we age losing our independence has to be the worse and you are doing the right thing not letting her drive-many family members look the other way until something bad happens. When she becomes angery she will not want to listen to reasoning so usually it is best not to say anything at the time and you will probably have to suffer through this for a while-I feel it is too late to change my Mom and I am not her main helper so when I am with her I just let her rant until she stops.
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Hate to be "underhanded" but I use "the doctor said no" a lot. Finally my "mom" gave her car away to my sister. Once the car wasn't available, she seemed to forget about it. With regard to wanting to go to the store and buy things she is not supposed to have, I am still trying to learn of a way to deal with it. My mother seems to need only the things she is not supposed to have! Recently she insisted she needed a curling iron. These are not allowed in the Alzheimer's assisted living home she lives in. What I have been doing in order to avoid the outbursts is I will take her to the store for the curling iron, distract her by leading her over to the greeting cards, or something like that, get the curling iron out of the shopping card, suggest some things that she can have, lotion or magazine, and hurry up and get in line and back out to the car. When/if she realizes she didn't get the item she really wanted, I say next Saturday we will go to the store and pick it up. So far it is working out. Deb

I take care of both my mom and mother-in-law. My MIL has Alzheimers and I find that she is much more difficult after sundown than during the day. She is much easier to deal with in reasoning during the day than in the evening. She thinks that just because she is older than me that she knows better. I used to try to explain everything to her, but it gets old sounding like a broken record. I'm not sure if it is better to ignore than to try to explain. At 85 she still thinks she drives, goes to work, etc. and never remembers that she is being taken care of. I think the easiest answer would be to get rid of the car unless you need it of course, but that is what we did (out of sight, out of mind) most of the time.
While I cannot address the anger issues, perhaps I can help you with the driving issue. In Kansas, you can contact the Drivers License Bureau and report that your mom should no longer be driving due to medcal conditions. I didn't have to do this but a friend did so I don't know the specific steps you have to go through....but what ended up happening is the Drivers License Bureau sent a letter to his father stating that he is no longer allowed to drive and his license was cancelled. There was no mention of who, how, or why so it circumvented any blame to aim towards my friend. I'd bet this option is available in any state. It's worth checking into at any rate. It would get the blame off of your back.
Jeanie, what your mil is experiencing is called Sundowners Syndrome. A good way to deal with this when you know it is coming is distraction. Have a chore ready for her to do everyday at the same time when you know the sundowners is going to start. Also have the house or room that she is in as bright as possible making it appear to my earlier than it is when the sundowners starts. Also keeping a clock that she looks at all the time set to a specific time so she does not watch the time helps. A friend that has a home with 5 ladies keeps the clock in the room that they stay during the day set to two all the time. This keeps them pretty calm for the most part.
About the anger with Deej's mom. It is best not to argue with them at all. When you do have to tell them no it is a good idea to use the Doctor said so card or someone else said so, that way the anger will be toward someone other than you and you will not be the bad guy. One way to possibly let your mom decide that care doesn't work is to take out the battery and tell her that you will go with her, let her get behind the wheel and then when the car doesn't start you can act upset and tell her oh this stupid car now we can't go anywhere. She will decide that it si the car that is keeping her from going. It seems mean to some that we have to trick our loved ones with ALZ, but sometimes it is the only way. Also talk to her doctor about adjusting her meds. Her anger can be stemming from depression and can be helped with many meds. This is also true for Jeanie and the sundowners. Try Seroquel or something similar and give to your MIL before the sundowners start.

I am aware of Sundowners Syndrome, and I give her meds every day at 4 pm for this very reason, but wasn't sure about the lights all night or the clock. Maybe we will give that a try for the evening.

Deej~I guess there comes that dreated time when we must ask our parents to STOP driving, and use as many excuses as we can muster up. Trying to reason with her-will do you no good, for the most she probably become resentful, and you will become fustrated. One trick to do, is to have an important part of the engine removed-so it will not start...and just tell her it will need to be looked at. (a fiblet)......In my situation, it was my own Mom's neurolologist who told her NOT to drive, and she respected him, as he was a doctor. For your Mom-this is just a piece of independence, she will have to give up, but in the long run-it becomes a safety issue-that is addressed.
If you still are not sure how to handle the situation, contact your local chapter of the Alzheimer's Association--they can also be reached at their helpline # which is 1-800 272-3900. "taking away the keys" can also be found online as well.
Best to you on you caregiving journey,
Stopping driving is emotionally devastating to any aging adult. hey, do you remember when you turned 16 and your got your driver's license? You were introduced to a freedom and the ability to come and go like you never could before.

For many seniors, the loss of their drivers license marks the beginning of the end. Many would rather choose isolation in their homes than to ask for a ride.

This is a very tough issue to address. If you live in an urban area, accessible and affordable transportation may not be an issue. Your mother may be experiencing emotional, social and monetary loss. She is feeling loss over control over her life. These losses can include feeling a loss of social status and spontaneity. Often, a non-driving individual feels that he or she must always plan around the schedule of others.

She may now see her life as trips that will be increasingly taken out of necessity rather than for social reasons. These feelings can make asking family and friends for transportation incredibly difficult and the aging adult feels increasingly isolated. This increases feelings of anger and resentment in a person.

This may be especially true when the aging adult has always been independent and self-sufficient. Such individuals often feel that requesting a ride as a favor is an imposition. Most caregivers would like their loved ones to feel comfortable requesting transportation. Providing such transportation makes demands on caregivers’ time and money.

The types of alternate transportation available in your community will depend on the location and structure of the community. Unfortunately for some aging adults, some of the same skills and abilities that are associated with driving are required for the safe use of many alternate transportation methods. IF she has dementia, she may no longer have the skills to required for safe use of alternate transportation.

Have you sat and discussed a plan to help her adjust to this by addressing a plan to get her where she needs to go. Create a list of volunteer drivers, community transportation. If she is uncomfortable using some form of transportation that is new to her. take a few trips with her to the destination until seh becomes comfortable.

is there a senior center where she can go for socialization? Do they provide transportation? later adult day care may be an answer for you.

Driving is a privilege, not a right. IT is never easy to loose the ability to drive. THere are steps you can take as a family member to help her transition and make this easier. THere is no right answer.

First I would like to sincerely thank everyone for their answers. When I ask questions in this forum someone always answers the question which in of itself helps me to know others out there going through the same thing trying to help. THANK YOU ALL!
We have already done the disconnect the battery trick and finally did the “fake” key on her key ring so it will not start. In fact it only goes in but won’t turn. She has found this out twice now and is angry that it has happened and basically blamed it on my husband then forgets. To answer the one about the DMV I had recently learned that one so I called them here in my state and I had to fax in a short statement about my concern about her driving and so now I am waiting to hear back from them. Hoping they will send her something in the mail requesting her to come in for a driving test or that would be SUPER if they just sent her a notice saying her license is cancelled. I do completely understand it has to do with the last bit of her independence. She doesn’t have a social life any more as that mostly stopped and now I know why as what little friends she had got angry with her due to her memory loss. I tried to get one to reconnect with her sending apology for her outburst at them but have not heard from them in two months. I have been already driving her to dr appts etc for several years now so nothing new with her going to places on her own. I looked into activities for her at our senior center but it is more geared for active seniors like computer classes, dancing, bingo movie night etc…… I talked to her about it and she said NO she already looked into those things and she doesn’t want to do them so it would literally me forcing her to go. I am now looking to easy crafts of hobbies she could do at home to see if I can get her interested. Her only activity WAS driving up a few blocks and sit by a fountain and watch people. Now with her AD I don’t want her alone and someone take advantage of her. I offer to take her to the park and she refuses. Again I have had to force her on a couple of occasions to go and then she had fun sitting and watching. It seems I have to force a lot and I don’t feel that is good for her or me.I have thought it could be sundowners but again it seems to hit different times of the day. It can be as early as noon. I feel she is very negative and angry and I can understand it has to do with things changing for her but I am not sure I am dealing with it properly when it does happen. Not knowing if to ignore and walk away…… just listen and let her vent away at me…….. Or what? I mean one can only take so much listening to her being angry with me and blaming me or my family for her circumstances.

I guess I have to learn the love the limbo of this disease just not sure if I should simply ignore her angry outbursts or try to calm her down as that hasn’t helped. By the way I do blame the dr on not letting her have the meds but she still turns it around. I just have seen the actual physical violence with her until now the throwing her purse and keys as it has happened three times now.
It sounds like your mother needs to be told by an authority figure other than you, that she can no longer drive. Period. If this directive can come from her doctor, so much the better. There can't be any ambiguity about this. She needs to know that the time has come for her to stop. ( if you and her doctor agree about this). Our parents are seldom happy to hear this news, but their safety and the safety of others on the road is at stake. This is difficult, I know---we went through this with my father, and we had to eventually get a trusted older relative to help deliver the news to Dad. Dad, as expected , got angry, but he got over it once he saw that we were not going to budge. Good luck.

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