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Can anyone tell me why an elder would be driving to the left, the left, the left?

This has been going on for a VERY LONG TIME! We even had an optometrist involved (two years ago) and I was sure that an answer was close at hand. But, the optometrist gave the glasses back with NO CHANGE, and we were back where we started.

I am not just talking about driving a bit more to the left on an unmarked street where cars are parked on the right, which also happens. This is a persistent tendency to drive to the left on all marked roads, over to the middle and then back to the left, the left, the left--including right up to but not over the double yellow lines, including the highway, even when another car is passing us. In the past months it also started on the right. It is as if he is deciding to change lanes then stops... Freaking scary.

For the record, the person in question (husband) is no longer driving (since two months)--but just barely. No decision has been made, no conversation has been had, he recently stated that he is able to drive. The "no driving" is just my refusal to be driven by him and my going EVERYWHERE he needs to go so that I am always driving. I don't dare to let him drive anywhere. What if he hurt himself or someone else? We could lose everything...

But back to my question: WHY is this happening? Has anyone out there had experience with this? After much thought and observation, I am beginning to think:

a) he is orienting himself on the line, and/or

b) it is a question of reaction time. Has he had a mini-stroke? He has many health issues and requires oxygen at night. Is at doctor and labs frequently.

Oddly enough, I was telling this to his children about two years ago (this has been going on for about six years), and his daughter-in-law said that his son does the same thing. What can that mean?

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Stage 4 Alzheimers and driving? Does the doctor who did the diagnosis know that he is driving?

You wrote: "It will be the end of him and for me when he has to quit."

Believe me, it will be the end if he hurts or kills someone before he quits. Could you live with that? You need a plan NOW, Mary,member. We all know how hard this is--but look at your own message. It is frightening.
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You are negligent if you know someone is no longer safe to drive and do nothing about it.It is a very hard choice but part of being an adult.
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I just don't know when my husband should stop driving. I have followed him and he does fine. But he is in the beginning of stage 4 Alzheimers. He has a part time job that he drives to. It is in the evening. It is daylight going, but darkness coming back. Any time I mention to stop driving I am struck down. He works on tractors and mowers and goes to town for parts and for paint. It will be the end of him and for me when he has to quit. I need to come up with a plan. marymember
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Thanks everyone! I am making sure that he doe snot drive. The reinforcement is really very reassuring.
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OK, this one I do know from personal experience. You need to take the keys away, find all the spares, and sell the car. Otherwise, you will be just waiting to come home and find all the cars parked on your street side-swiped - by guess who. My dad did this and we never did find out if it was due to his Parkinsons, cancer treatment, medication, dementia or just bad vision. He didn't live long enough for us to figure it out. Needless to say, this is when the parent/child role flipped, so I had to handle it firmly, yet compassionately. It was one of the most difficult things to do, especially when he was no where near ready to stop driving on his own. I stood in front of him, put my hand out, and said, "Dad, give me the keys". And kept repeating it until he eventually handed them over. Then found all his hidden extra keys, and I took the car to my home. Had to do the same with mom a few years later. This is the moment you finally "grow up".
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First, have the MVD take his license away from him. All he has to do is take a test drive with them based on you notifying them about the behavior. Second, get him to a neurologist and have his brain checked out with an MRI or CT as he may be suffering from a condition where he only sees one side of his face (from his eye). Do not let him drive or he might kill someone head-on.
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Ooooooooooooooooh, that is bringing back memories. About four or so years ago my husband was doing a lot of driving (me to my clients; he was retired). I noticed at one point that he had lost the ability to "scan" an area. Just as you said, he would approach a big, busy intersection with a gas station, and not know where to pull in. He would get confused. And even further back, he had this maddening habit of always choosing the most dangerous parking spot in a parking lot--like right at the entrance so that incoming cars might hit him as he backed out. But somehow, the ability to scan and evaluate on the spot had just gone bye-bye.

It has been a long, long time of being scared to death for me. So, as of last fall I said, that is it. He was driving one day and before we left our own street, I said that he could not begin "like this (he was driving on the left as if we were in a small English village--but we're not)," then fifteen minutes later, I said, OK, pull over, from now on, I am driving. And that was the end. I just can't take it anymore.
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I see deficits already in hubby at age 64. He misses turns, hits the curb, picks the wrong entrance on the interstate. His mother ,87, asked him "When is YOUR road test?!?!?" I was ROFL in the back seat.
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Wow...sigh...wow...sigh...
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My grandfather got some crazy ideas about driving just before they hid his keys. If he was on a two lane road and going to make a left hand turn, he'd go into the oncoming traffic lane like it was a turn lane. He claimed that he always did it that way, but we knew better than that. Then there was the "if you go over 40mph, the tires will come off the rims" thing. I was driving him once and he just started screaming and hollering because I was doing 45.
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My Dad was always moving more toward the right curb in his final years of driving until he kept bumping the curb and eventually blew out the front right tire twice. That finally curbed [yes, pun intended] his desire to drive. The reason for drifting right? Macular degeneration in his left eye, he would tend to try to keep his left eye closed while driving.

Plus, Dad was driving something that felt as large as a cabin cruiser so that didn't help. It's a big old sedan that was built more for someone 6 foot tall and over, not someone who has stunk down to under 5 feet tall. I am short and I find their car difficult to drive, I can't see the side view mirrors on either side because I have the seat pulled up close to reach the pedals.... [sigh]
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Hi,

Pam, I miswrote the word--it WAS on opthamologist. He found "a spot" but then that turned out to be nothing and so--back to square one.

Noor, I totally get it. I agree with you 100%. You don't sound angry--you sound rational. So, I just informed some family that I be coming for a visit because it is too far for my husband and I CANNOT leave him alone. He CANNOT drive me to the airport. He CANNOT stay home alone and drive around town and go grocery shopping, etc. So, for the duration, however long it is, I am the designated driver. Because I am the nervous and anxious type, right? ;)

Thanks for your support!
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I agree with Veronica about sending a note on the QT to the doc. At this point it isn't why he has trouble driving, it is the fact that he should NOT be driving, regardless of the reason. I've had to do a lot of behind the scenes string pulling to make sure my mother (85 yo w/beginning dementia) does NOT drive - from on the sly notes and phone calls to her doctors, to anonymous notes to the FL DMV - and have solicited friends to do same. Her doctors finally wrote to the DMV who responded with suspending her license for 'medical reasons'. Up until that point - literally EVERY SINGLE DAY for a YEAR (since I took her keys away after her TIA, but before DMV contacted her) ALL I HEARD was b**ching about not being able to drive. It drove me insane. Well, she'd been quite about it since she got the DMV letter, but for some reason over last two weeks she's started up again, insisting she HAS to drive. Oh yeah - one of the last times we drove together, she pulled OUT the IN Entrance at Lowe's onto a major highway. Thankfully no one (particularly a truck) was coming or we'd have been killed. She doesn't 'get' this though as she thinks she's fine - perhaps much like your husband? She insists she's perfectly fine, but her Neurologist told her point blank that she (as many in her situation) is NOT capable of accessing her capabilities anymore. I know it is often a case of vanity, or whatever, but yes, you CAN lose EVERYTHING you own should hubby have an accident. I wasn't willing to take that risk so I put my foot down and did what I needed to do by contacting her docs and having them write letters to the DMV, etc. It's worth it, because NO one should be allowed to drive, just because we don't have what it takes to say "NO" to them - for their vanity or need for "independence" (don't get me started on the latter). THEY have no right to endanger other people - and God forbid perhaps kill or maim a child just so they can go to the supermarket, feel young again, or whatever reasons they come up with. Sorry if I come off as sounding angry or lacking compassion, but no one has the right to possible KILL someone else, or bankrupt their family because they 'have' to drive. I cringe when I think that after months of silence, we're starting up with the whining and anger over my mother's driving situation again. She will drive again over MY dead body; which ain't gonna happen. Good luck, and please make the WISE decision, regardless of hubby's ego, threats, etc.
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If you can, get a fingertip pulse oximeter and check his levels. If he is oxygen deprived while driving, anything can and will happen.
An optometrist only fits glasses. You need an OPTHAMOLOGIST, who can examine the retina. Retinas are very informative and can reveal if the patient is having TIA's or if the macula is degenerating, if there is glaucoma or cataract problems. See one ASAP.
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I can't guess why hubby and his son both drive to the left on the highway. you mention he uses oxygen at night and has many health problems. oes he use portable oxygen when he is driving? It could be his brain is oxygen starved when he is out and really is not safe to be doing anything alone.
Send a note to his Dr before your next visit so he can assess hubby's abilities and if needed refer him for neurological testing.
All this may be caused by oxygen starvation rather than dementia setting in but only and expert can make that decision.. in the meantime use any method necessary to prevent him getting behind the wheel. Claiming anxiety when being driven is a good strategy but on the other hand do you feel comfortable always driving in the future. I am assuming you are not young either and we all loose our abilities somewhat as we age. others on the forum will agree to their own nervousness especially driving in heavy traffic and strange places so you are not alone.
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Weeeeeeeeeeeeeell, I am asking her for ideas because it is diplomatically tricky. My husband thinks, with great pathos, that he can still drive. The story in my house is that I am doing the driving because I am anxious and nervous, etc. So, he is accommodating me--that is the official story. I don't care what reason we use as long as he is not behind the wheel. But he is still very, very much in denial.

He has many, many doctors' appointments and, at them, we are usually talking about this health. He would be mortified if I suddenly wanted to talk to the doctor about the driving.

No, he is not seeing a neurologist. Again, that would be hard. But I do get your point. He has become very, very slow--almost like a slow-motion film. But where there is denial, it is hard to gear up to add another layer of doctor's visits into what we already have.
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Can you talk to his doctor about this snd have an Occupational Therapist assess his driving? Does he see a neurologist?
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