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He has no family here but he said he has gotten lost on at least two occasions, once when he was going home! How can I help him or should I just stay out of it? What would you do?

Yes, an early symptom of dementia. Happened to my mom and she stopped driving, just like that, didn't like to anyway and had a hubby to become her driver. She was so frightened when this happened, she never drove again. Though times in the throes of sundowning would threaten she was going to drive to her parents house, of course they had passed many years before. So terribly sad the decline that we witness.

Help your friend become familiar with Uber and other options that are available. Free ride services to doctors and such. Is he a member of a church that has volunteers that would help out?

He must trust you a great deal. I am surprised he told you. My mom told me too, maybe a sign that he is ready to give up driving but needs help to figure out solutions.
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Don’t ask him for a lift home...& don’t go into car w him. If he has family, tell them what he told you. If he has dr. ask him casually what his name is & call to tell dr. Do they have Access a Ride in your area? Encourage him to apply for it. He won’t have to drive...Hugs 🤗
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Grammy6pak Oct 13, 2019
I dont know if that is available but will definitely check into it! Thanks for the suggestions!
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No family to talk to... that makes it very difficult.

Are you and your friend part of a wider social circle? Do you know other people who know him, perhaps who are closer to him than you are?

How essential is driving to his current lifestyle?

You are right to be alarmed by this, because not being able to navigate even very familiar, habitual routes is a text-book early warning sign of dementia. Is there any possibility you might persuade him to quit while he's ahead, look for other ways of getting about so that he can retire with his good driving record intact?
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Grammy6pak Oct 13, 2019
His family lives quite a distance away and I dont know them but there are friends who could get in touch with them! I do think we need to be proactive!

Thank you all for the feedback and great suggestions!
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I would assume he is aware of a problem, is scared, and is asking for help. Since you are a friend, and he came to you, he is probably willing to open up if asked.

Have you ridden with him recently to observe his driving generally?

Offer to go with him to his doctor to discuss recent experience and any episodes in or out of the car when he has lost his way, felt dizzy, lost his balance, had cognitive difficulties (e.g., confusion, serious forgetfulness, not understanding directions, difficulty planning, etc.) Does he show symptoms of UTI (often mental in the elderly), TIA (mini-stroke)?

Anticipating that doctor(s) may recommend he stop driving, could you find out about alternative means of transportation available to him?
Hopefully with your help he will make the decision to stop driving now and ease into a new way of getting around, and avoid the trauma of an accident and/or having his keys taken away from him suddenly.
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Grammy6pak Oct 13, 2019
I thought it was asking for help also, he just popped it into the middle of a conversation and wanted me to know for a reason!
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I think it would be kind of you to try to help him and gently suggest that he should consider not driving anymore. I think 85 is pretty old to still be behind the wheel. And getting lost is certainly a sign of something bigger.

Good luck!
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Grammy6pak Oct 13, 2019
Thanks, I am going to let him know that I am concerned and be proactive in trying to help him!!
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Does he have any family anywhere close? Or even removed? Has he shared anything at all other than this with you?
I don't know how close a friend this is? Were I you I would simply ask him for coffee or lunch and I would say "Last time we were together you mentioned getting lost a few times, and it seems to me that you were a little concerned. Are there any other things that are of concern to you? As we age we all get a bit confused and forgetful, for instance, about things we put away and cannot find. You can ask him to do the old "clock test" for you on a napkin: "Can you draw me a clock set at 12:30? Or is something like that getting more difficult".
You can ask him if these things are of enough concern to him that he would like to discuss them with his doctor and get a "baseline" testing to compare in future.

He may be against this and he may say "Oh, I just mentioned it. I am not concerned". If that is the case I would back away. You aren't family. Anything else would be intrusive I think. But you can leave him with "If you ever change your mind I am here; I would be happy to go with you for any tests or anything. Just let me know".
It was at age 85 that my brother had his accident. I think it is a hard way to learn and luckily no one else was injured. He said he had several warning signs he ignored. I fear this is most commonly the way of it. I do not know why there is not mandatory testing after age 75 or 80.
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Grammy6pak Oct 13, 2019
He might just blow me off but it is worth a try. He has a couple other friends who are closer to him than I am and I think I will talk to them!
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If at all possible I would contact any of his family members and let them know what's going on, especially if they aren't local. That's what I would want if I were in their shoes. The ball should be in their court and this is their alert that your neighbor will be requiring immediate attention from them. As time passes, if nothing changes and your neighbor makes any more comments to you or displays dangerous driving behavior (and in this case just call 911), you can go onto your state's DMV website and write anonymously to them stating why he shouldn't be driving. If they find your case strong enough they will call him in for an eye exam or road test. I've done this 4 times for 4 different people and they all had their driving privileges ended.

In the meantime, if you are willing and able, you can offer to drive him to any regular appointments. This is what some awesome neighbors do for my 2 very senior aunties in FL. They enjoy each other's company and my aunties thank them by treating them to lunches and dinners.

A friend of mine was out of the country when her very senior mother who was back home, who lives with her and has been totally capable of just about every function, got lost on the way to the vet to pick up her dog. She was "lost" for over 14 hours calling my friend in Nicaragua. It did not even occur to the mother to stop and ask for directions or take a taxi home even though she had the money and her address was plainly on her driver's license. So, others who have suggested that a smartphone would have helped, I don't think so because it's not just about getting lost, it's about confusion and loss of cognitive functions like logic and problem-solving, an indicator of bigger impending issues for your neighbor.
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Please, Please - save a life and help him find other transportation and get him off the road!! This sounds like much more than just driving through an unfamiliar area - anyone can get lost in a strange city.
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89 year old getting lost.....Some kid had a drone flew it over a lake and found a car. Kid's family called police, and they found the older woman in the vehicle that drove over an embankment. , whose family was looking for her over a couple years. They were relieved if that's the right word, they found out what happened to their mother... that was in the news last week...
My aunt had an appt. forgot where she left the car. That was the end of her driving. police/DMV pulled her license, she forgot to show up for the "meeting."
So, things happen, try to have another source set up for him, city ride or something... It would be horrific if he forgot he was driving...Does he live alone? He may need to be placed in AL
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Geaton777 Oct 15, 2019
When I called the county to find rides for my MIL with short-term memory impairment, they said they won't take someone like that because they don't want the liability. Same for Metro Mobility bus. Also I would absolutely not call them a taxi/Uber/Lyft or put him on a city bus or train for same reasons: the neighbor is now too forgetful, easily confused and too vulnerable to travel without a trusted escort.
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You are right, great suggestions here.

Just wanted to share my experience(s):

My Mom (at the time 81 yrs) drove down to the Walmart early afternoon. Next thing she remembers is going down this dirt road and stopping the car. She didn't get out and sat there till it got dark. She could hear the coyotes in the distance. When it got dark, she could see the city lights in the distance and turned the car around. She was almost out of gas and stopped at the nearest gas station. Fortunately for us we were already out looking for her and my sister spotted her as she got out of the car. I assume that she had driven into someone's property on the outskirt of town. Thank God she thought about turning the car around or she would of probably be there maybe days till someone found her. She has not driven since.

My Dad insisted on driving for quite a while before we realized he had a problem (he was 87). My Mom would not let us know until she was starting fear for her life. He was going down one way streets, side swiping cars parked on the side of the road, getting lost, almost hitting a pedestrian while he was trying to park at the mall. I couldn't take the keys from him fast enough. Yep, he could of killed himself, my mom, and others. How could I live with that!

Two high school brothers got hit by an elderly man while coming home from an all day fishing trip. The brothers died. That was tragic. They were friends of the family.

An elderly women walked away from her family at a flea market and here we are almost three years later and it looked like she just vanished.

I'm glad he shared his concern with you. After about a year my Dad started telling me that something was wrong with him. Of course by then we already knew that Alzheimer's had set in. It's hard for people to reach out for help. They may try to down play it. I'm glad you took it seriously.

Hopefully his family will be contacted and take care of him. If they don't an agency or his doctor (if known) will help.

God Bless You!
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NeedHelpWithMom Oct 17, 2019
My Lord! That is terrifying. My cousin is driving at 97 years of age. She gets speeding tickets! She tells off the cops. They gave her a license because she passed the eye exam.

I feel they should have to do a driving tests and take a written test too. It’s dangerous for them and dangerous for other passengers on the road.
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