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Hello, this is my first time posting here, though I refer to this forum and find it tremendously helpful! My mother is 80 and still lives with my father at home. In the past 5 years we have noted a marked progression of memory issues with her. In the past year it has escalated to now involve her behavior and emotions. She has become increasingly suspicious, angry, and now even paranoid. Though she's never been diagnosed with anything she checks off on at least 7 of the 10 warning signs for Alzheimers. We have spent the past few years trying to get her in for testing and diagnosis but she refuses and is in deep denial. In the meantime my father and I have learned to do our best not to argue with her, even to the point of letting her rage and rant at us with very hurtful language while we just bow our heads and apologize for whatever it is that set her off, no matter how random. In recent months she has had a few near-miss car accidents. She and my father had planned to make the 2-hour drive over a mountain pass to spend Christmas with my family, as well as my sister and her family. But something triggered her rage before the trip and she refused to drive with my father over the pass, insisting she would drive herself over in her own car the next day. But we are all very concerned about the potential for her to get into an accident. My dad did not know what to do, but didn't want to upset her anymore so he agreed to drive himself over and let her have her way. At this point I intervened and came up with a (fake) story about how I needed to come stay with her the night before she planned to leave, hoping to persuade her to drive with me back over the pass. She insisted she wanted to be in her own car but agreed to let me drive behind her. Just before the pass we pulled into a small town for a bite to eat. I watched in horror as she pulled out in front of a speeding truck, a very close call. I asked her if she had seen the truck. She defiantly claimed it was all 'his fault' and did not seem fazed. Then she got very agitated with me, insisting she no longer wanted me following her. I tried to persuade but she only got angrier, so I agreed but then left first and hid my car so I could pull out behind her and still follow. Unfortunately it was now dark out, and the heavy traffic and rainfall caused me to lose her on the road. There was nothing I could do but drive on, full of worry and concern. This is when I made a bad decision. I drove to their townhome and decided to wait for her to arrive. I waited for 40 minutes out in the parking lot as I didn't want to go inside and worry my dad. But the longer I waited the more I worried. By the time she pulled in I was ready with my "speech." My dad and I have always been very gentle with her, but after so many years of her resistance to help, her increasing rage and anger, and the ever-increasing need for medical intervention and worry for her safety on the road, I thought I might try my sister's suggestion to be more firm and forceful with her. Bad idea! Though my speech to her was along the lines of "we love you and are concerned for you and your safety and want you to accept our help" it was delivered with a raised voice. To make matters worse, I used a few angry "LISTEN to me!" and pounded my fist on the counter to get her attention. She had a complete meltdown, screaming that I was the most hateful daughter in the world, that no one has ever been treated as horribly as this, that my dad had put me up to this (he hadn't, and in fact would have insisted that I just let it go), that my dad had turned the whole family against her. As her rage went on she started to form a new story, accusing me of wanting to kill her, that she would just go ahead and "do it herself". Then she grabbed her purse and keys and tried to leave. Being very worried now about her safety I used my body as a block so she couldn't leave. She pushed at me to get past, and I had to push back some so I wouldn't fall down. My raised voice lasted only the first few minutes, but the rest of the 20 minutes or so of the episode I was calm and repeating "I love you, I'm worried for you", even as she raged and pushed to get past me. Once it was clear she was not going to leave the house I sat down and continued with calm loving words, recalling happy memories with her, but to no avail. She now insists she never wants to see or talk with me again. The thing is, I am her power of attorney and main caretaker after my dad (who has his own aging concerns which I also look after -- happily, I might add). Although her behavior will definitely put a damper on the holidays (she will not come to my house for the annual gathering), what concerns me most is how will I be able to help when she refuses to have contact with me? We had planned to move them closer next year, and the logistics of a move won't happen without my help, not to mention all the other matters that she will need help with. Help!

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Next time she says she'll kill herself call 911. Very likely she will deny she is suicidal, but you might get some help with getting an Alzheimers or other dnx.
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It's one thing if your mom isn't driving and just acting out her issues on you and your dad. But when she's driving, she's putting other innocent people at risk of harm - including death. She could have killed five people on that drive over the mountain. She should NOT be driving based on what you've said. She needs her license pulled ASAP. I understand not wanting to anger her, but at this point, it's a case of community safety and goes beyond your mom and her feelings.

I agree with the geriatric psychiatrist recommendation. Your mom needs help. She's not going to go willingly. It's going to get ugly unless you leave her alone, which isn't really a good option. I am so sorry you have to go through with something so painful, but something is going to happen. Just get those car keys and her driving ability taken away from mom! If you can do that, you can wait for the big emergency. I agree with calling 911 if she's raging and threatening suicide. Try to get her admitted for evaluation. {{{{Hugs}}}} this is so very difficult for all of you.
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I'm still stuck at the driving. This is seriously dangerous, not only to her, but everyone else on the road!

My stepmother and I both spoke to my father's doctor about his driving in his last years. The doctor contacted the motor vehicle department and had his license revoked. He was upset about it, but since he had dementia, he eventually forgot.

I know this is a hard thing to do when you're already having difficulties, but dangerous driving is a very serious thing. Dementia driving is a lot like drunk driving. Please don't wait till someone is injured or killed.
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I think that you're either going to have to wait for "the crisis" or do some work behind the scenes.

Is your state one in which you can anonymously make a report to DMV about an unsafe driver?

Does she have a doctor that she sees from time to time? Write a brief letter, outlining your concerns in bullets, send it return receipt.

Call your local Area Agency on Aging and ask for their advice.  

You might also Google "Baker Act" and your state.  It's an involuntary 72 hour psychiatric hold.  It's the nuclear option.
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Your mom needs to be evaluated as to what is wrong with her mental state. Get in touch with a Geri Psych unit near you and tell them about your mom’s behavior and they ought to be able to help you out.
Seriously, before your mom starts chasing your dad around their house with a butcher’s knife. But they can prescribe medication that will calm her. My own mom had gotten violent and she’s so much happier on the new medication Geri Psych started her on.

Good luck!
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I was on the edge of my seat while reading your post when you described your mother's trip over the mountain. I agree with Blannie. That is the number one issue that must be resolved and if you have to report her to get her to stop driving, please do so without delay. My parents too, struggled with ceasing to drive and we had many discussions with them before they finally agreed to stop. At the time they were both fairly cognizant and willing to listen to reason, but from your story your mother is beyond that point. It is not just her life she is putting in danger but anyone else's she comes in contact with. It is like giving a 3 year old a loaded gun! A friend I had in college told me of a friend that she had grown up with whose sweet, gentle, 85 year old grandfather, who insisted he had no problems driving, ran a stop sign and plowed into a pregnant woman and her daughter killing them all. He was uninjured, but the trauma and guilt destroyed his health and he died soon after. I have never forgotten that story and shared it with my parents when we were trying to get them to stop driving.
On the other hand, my neighbor's mother with Alzheimers refused to give up driving. My neighbor started by refusing to allow her mother to drive with her grandson in the car. When that didn't move her to stop she got her son to disable the car. Her mother would call her to say that her car needed to go to the shop and she would tell her, "OK, we'll take it later" and then her mother would forget until the next time. Whatever it takes.
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This is the most wonderful place to get thoughtful and well-reasoned support - thank you! Yes, I checked and in my state you can report an unsafe driver to the DMV. I'm also writing a letter detailing our concerns and the changes we've seen in her which will be sent to her doctor in the next week. Thank you all so much! Three days of tears (for all of us involved) and it's so healing to read these responses. Thank you. :)
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Echoing others upthread that her driving must stop and the steps to take! Innocent people--including you and your father--need you to be strong to have her license and her keys taken away. I can't imagine the tsunami of emotion you face from her. I feel for you.
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Right now I see that you have 3 cars across the pass. You need to call a tow company and get them to tow it to a shop in her hometown. If needed, go out and pull something loose before they arrive. "Sorry mom, but your car won't start. Can't get a shop open on Christmas, so we're towing to the shop back in town where we can trust them to do the job right."

My mthr did not want me to take my $500 car to college, so the weekend before I was to leave, she poured sugar in the gas tank to disable it. It worked perfectly. If your mom's car happens to be a junker, that might be the way to go.

How's your dad's driving? Mom might try to change her DPOA, but you can challenge with a guardianship hearing and court-ordered mental competency evaluation.
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babl1964 - I just found this forum a couple of months ago, but it's made such a huge difference to me. Look around and you'll see a lot of people going through very similar things. There is lots of room here to say what you're really thinking, and lots of awesome advice or even just support to be gained.

My mom goes through spurts of rage and hate at me. Which is fine because I secretly feel rage and hate all the time now, lol! But I've noticed it happens most when she feels like she is being judged or controlled, or when she is losing control over aspects of her life, or feels like she is losing her freedoms.

For me, it's been about finding new ways of approaching old problems, and letting go of some problems that aren't really important, in the long-term. A friend of mine advised me to approach it like parenting, and that's helped a lot. Just by changing my tone and language, I've gotten her into a place of understanding there are negotiables and non-negotiables (medical care, hygiene, and safety are non-negotiables, for example), and that I'll stand my ground whatever it takes on those non-negotiables.

My friend actually recommended a parenting book about bettering the way one talks to kids, which I just received in the mail yesterday. It's called "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk."
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