My Mom gets very agitated and upset when she rides in a vehicle. What can I do to make traveling less stressful?


She goes to Adult Day Care 5 days a week. We live in a rural area so the drive is about 30-45 minutes. She used to not mind being in the car, but now she completely freaks out when we turn, go over a hill, or if the road is a little bumpy. Even on flat roads she gets upset. I need to be able to drive her places, but I just don't know what to do to keep her from being so distressed. Anyone have suggestions?

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There's no logic, here, unfortunately. Often, with dementia, what she is perceiving visually is what's scaring here because she doesn't understand what is happening. A bump in the road for her may feel like an assault.
I know this doesn't solve your problem and my heart aches for you. I've been with my dad when he thought the doctor, who was performing a very familiar procedure, was on that day, trying to "kill him."
The helplessness we feel is awful. As mentioned above, if you could avoid it, you would. Taking her to day care, especially when day care is beneficial, is something that involves transportation.
Please talk with her doctor and see if there is a short acting anti-anxiety medication she could take, or at least see if the doctor has other suggestions.
Take care of yourself, too.
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Do you drive her everywhere, or does she get transportation to the day center? Did she have some traumatic car experience, such as a near-accident or something she would perceive as scary? Or see such an event on television? Or have it happen many years ago? Who knows, huh? Is she articulate enough to tell you what is upsetting her?

If she got agitated near rocking chairs the solution would be to keep her away from rocking chairs. But that isn't exactly practical when it is about riding in vehicles! Have you tried distraction when you know a turn is coming up? "Mother, what was that song we always used to sing driving to the lake?" and encourage her to sing along. Does she have fidget toys or comfort objects she finds calming to handle? Could you make up a game? Mother, everytime we come to a bump in the road, could you clap your hands? And when we turn left, rub your tummy" etc.

I sure don't know. I hope that others who have experienced this particular brand of agitation can give you some practical advice! In the meantime, I send you and your mother hugs!
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Thanks for you suggestions jeannegibbs. Unfortunately Mom has aphasia caused by her dementia (frontal temporal) and has really lost her language skills. My husband and I drive her to day care 2 times a week and the other days she gets picked up. I did try sitting with her in the back seat one morning and that did help, but in the afternoon when we picked her up and I tried that it didn't seem to help at all. It is difficult to engage her because she is so focused on being upset it's almost as if she can't hear me or even realizes that I am there. Once she is out of the car she is okay. And, no, she has never been in an accident. She actually likes watching car chases on TV! One of her favorite shows to watch is Top Gear! Go figure.
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