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My mom hasn't driven in over 7 years. She hasn't walked in 4 years. She stopped being able to transfer into a car about 1-2 years ago. She's completely bound to a wheelchair or bed.


She's going off the rails today about how she's going to take the bus to the DMV to take her driver's test. I told her she's going to be very disappointed. I wouldn't put it past her to attempt to go. She is totally capable of lying to her home health saying she's just going to the store or something so they'll put her in her scooter. Then she'd end up at the DMV with nowhere to go.


Drives me bananas. She has slight dementia but not bad and it's not progressing. She just fixates on stuff, and this isn't the first time she's fixated on driving again. Maybe in a couple days she won't be fired up about it. But I honestly don't know.


I just want it to stop. It's making me anxious as hell even though I know realistically she'll never drive again.

The problem is not so much your Mom's fixation, but the anxiety it's causing YOU. It "drives me bananas" and it's "making me anxious as hell". You say your Mom has slight dementia and it's not progressing. I think that's a mistake to think that. Dementia just doesn't halt; it progresses. I'm going to be honest here. My Mom also started to fixate on things periodically that would "drive me nuts". She would do things obviously dangerous to her (like repeatedly buying throw rugs to put around the house, go up and down the basement stairs "backwards" holding onto the railings to steady herself to do the laundry, trying to drag a hose off the hose reel to water her garden, etc). She also had "slight" dementia.

What helped ME cope with her behavior was visiting MY doctor. He prescribed a very small dose of Xanax that I took in the morning before visiting my Mom for the day. It took the edge off my anxiety and helped me calmly interact with Mom and appropriately distract her fixation on whatever. My brother lived with her and he was just passive aggressive and either ignored what she wanted or gave into her demands to take her shopping (so she could get more throw rugs, etc). I also had an understanding husband of 40 years to vent to. Caregiving the elderly is not easy. My longtime PCP understood that. I am and always have been a worrier (anxious) and caring for my Mom for 10 years kicked that into high gear. She's been gone 5 years now and I still have my prescription. I rarely take it, but I know when upcoming events will trigger my anxiety and stress, I will preemptively take one pill.

I'm not saying everyone should take pharmaceuticals but that is what worked/works for me. Make an appt with your doctor and ask his advice. Talk therapy alone wasn't doing it for me. Elderly people want to do what they want to do, not realizing it's no longer physically or mentally possible. We caregivers must adjust OUR reactions to THEIR perceived reality. Hugs to you.
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Reply to help2day
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The DMV office is closed for renovations. The DMV office is closed due to Covid. The DMV office closed down and can you believe the nearest one is 40 miles away. Pick one a day.
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cak2135 Aug 2, 2021
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Given that "My mom hasn't driven in over 7 years. She hasn't walked in 4 years. She stopped being able to transfer into a car about 1-2 years ago. She's completely bound to a wheelchair or bed", how will she show up at the DMV, in a car, to take a driving test????

Don't stress over things that will never happen. Do know, however, that all dementia progresses...........not necessarily on a schedule, or quickly, but it does progress. Your mother's dementia may be a tad worse than the 'slight' case you think it is if she's insisting on driving again when she's totally wheelchair and/or bedbound these days.

Wishing you the best of luck dealing with a difficult situation.
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Hi AJ,
I can tell you what worked for my husband who died in Dec 2020 after being diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) in 2015. I thought of it after watching an old black and white episode of Andy Griffith, where Buddy Epsen played a hobo passing thru Mayberry. He had a philosophy that “ the perfect time to do ANYTHING is alway tomorrow!”. So if all else failed in reasoning with my hubby, I just said sort of nonchalantly that “maybe we’d have time to do that tomorrow”…,,amazingly it always seemed to satisfy him for the moment. And of course “tomorrow” would never come! ( bc when tomorrow comes it is alway today). Blessings to you on this incredibly difficult road.
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It's not going to happen, even if she can get herself to the DMV. Don't fight with her over this. Ask her when she wants to go, and set up an appointment far in advance. If she forgets about her appointment and misses it, then make another one. Try not to stress over these things. Try diversionary tactics to get her thinking about other things. She's probably bored being so bed-bound and wheel-chair bound. Can she get involved in some activities with other seniors? Thoughts about driving are probably like some dementia ideas of "going home." They are symbolic and represent freedom and the time when things were better and she was independent. Be sure you are getting breaks from caregiving. You sound like you need a break.
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paintertr Aug 2, 2021
This is an excellent answer.
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What you want to stop is actually you saying "I want to learn how to manage my overwhelm, anxiety, fears, etc." so I can be centered and calm to communicate with my mother" while managing my own health needs and well being."

* Clearly, she won't change because her brain will not allow her to.
* You need to learn to take breaks / how to manage your overwhelm, learn what your triggers are and take action as soon as you are aware they are activating.
* While you may believe it is 'slight' dementia, it sounds much more serious than that to me and/or other brain functioning deterioration is going on. You need to find out / to educate yourself so you can understand how to manage how you feel / communicate with your mom.
* I understand it is 'a broken record.' We all go through it in our unique ways with our elders - family or friend. I do believe the 'best' way to handle it is to learn to give yourself SELF-COMPASSION and then be aware to give this to your mom - practice.
* It is important to learn how to 're-direct' her attention when she gets fixated. Say, okay I understand, and then change the subject/her focus. This is what medical professionals do in a memory care unit ('redirect' + engage). It is a learned behavior so give yourself time and self-support while practicing.
* And, I believe the 'best' way for anyone to manage this is to take breaks and learn how and what you need for 'self-care' = so you limit or stop the 'drives me bananas' which is more than understandable.
Gena / Touch Matters
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Let her take her little scooter to the DMV. She will quickly learn that she's way over her head here, and it will give the folks at the DMV, a chuckle as they explain that she needs a car to take a drivers exam.
You need to quit stressing over these minor bumps in the road, or you will end up with stress related health issues. You must learn to pick your battles. This one just isn't worth it. Best wishes.
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Reply to funkygrandma59
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I'm coming to this question a little late, as there are already some good responses. This type of desire is so common among older people who have lost their independence...whether they are far into dementia or just a little bit. My father did not have much dementia, but he had lost his judgment about himself to some extent - thinking he was more capable than he really was. His repeated desire was to "buy a little house" and live in it. He'd talk about how he could afford it and get some of the nice women (from the assisted living) to work for him there to help him out. This, of course, was not realistic, as I would have to help him arrange all of it and I'd be the one in trouble if one of the caregivers didn't show up or quit. It worried me a little and I'd feel badly for him being stuck in a more institutional living situation. BUT, I know it wasn't something possible. I'd usually just acknowledge the desire - like "That would be really nice, wouldn't it?" "It would be great to have your own place again." Fortunately, my dad wasn't so fixated that this repeated and repeated, it was just every so often. If the person repeats a LOT, I'd suggest an appt. with a geriatric psychiatrist and/or her neurologist to discuss symptoms and symptom relief. That sort of repeated fixation may be a sign of the patient's anxiety and might be relieved by some low-dose medication.
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Reply to KatyAdams
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If you know “realistically she’ll never drive again” it isn’t about driving. It might be useful to figure out what’s really causing the anxiety.

In the meantime, I share my husband’s gift: “Duck.” It’s a reminder to let frustration/angst run off my back like rain slides off a duck’s back so the duck stays dry.

Find husband, say “duck” and he understands all in a single word.

Husband says “duck” and I have an ally.

I do deep breathing with a “duck, duck, duck” mantra to restore inner calm (before the d’s become f’s … just sayin’)
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Reply to Erikka
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Where is the car and where are the keys? How about removing both with the guise of 'borrowing' the car for a few days.
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