My 83 year old mom has dementia and is in denial about it. She recently had a bad fall and broke both her wrists . This past Thursday her casts were removed with a 20 lb. limitation and prescribed occupational therapy. Knowing my mom (who is extremely controlling, willful and outright mean), I knew she would attempt to drive her manual (non-power steering) stick shift vehicle. Prior to this accident I was concerned about her driving and have refused to ride as a passenger for over a year. I didn’t know how to handle the situation before the accident so I was sort of ignoring it. But this accident and the further decline in her mental capacity seemed to be a good segue into possibly retiring her from her driving (she drives from North Carolina to Pensylvania every fall to see her sister and I know this is her intent this year…we are all on pins and needles each time she strikes out, but I think the next time will be a suicide mission). I’d also like to ad that she not only does not have the strength to steer this vehicle at this point, but her mental capacity is so bad that her doctor - on his own, prescribed Aricept about a week ago. She feels it is her right to drive her manual stick shift vehicle (no power steering, brakes, etc.) anywhere she pleases. I’ve discussed my concern with her in the past – that she could hurt herself and others on the road and she’s stated to me “I don’t care”. Anyway, she's refusing to take the Aricept due to her understanding that it has side effects...what drug doesn't!!? So, when the casts came off, I saw the wheels turning and I asked my brother to hide her keys because I could see both her and her car ending up in the middle of her neighbors living room (she has a very steep driveway). The very next day after her casts came off (last night), she called my brother in an absolute RAGE, SCREAMING at him that we are treating her like she is subhuman by taking her keys and not allowing her freedom. My brother called me in complete shock saying he’s never in his life had her lay into him like that before (and mind you - my mother was an abusive mother throughout our lives…I grew up in a foster home) so that made me nervous also. It’s not like she can hurt us at this point but dealing with her in that state is frightening and my brother was worried she’d stroke out over it. I’m afraid to go over there or call for fear that she will unload again.
I want to use Aricept as a carrot and if she agrees to take it, to possibly allow her to drive at some point if she is able. I am afraid that once she gets the keys she will say to hell with you and do whatever she wants at that point (she makes a lot of promises she doesn’t keep and now,conveniently can say she doesn’t remember). Do you think it is wise to even entertain this type of “deal”, or do you think we should allow her to drive? Or how does one go about this major adjustment in a person’s life? All of this is so foreign to me and my brother and we just don’t know how to handle this. Any suggestions???