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Some of you may know my mom is out of town right now. She is currently at my sister's house and will be meeting up with my brother tomorrow who will take her to her cabin in PA where she plans to spend the summer. (I have serious doubts she will be able to stay all summer as my brother doesn't want all the extra hassle, but that's a post for a different day).


The doctor who did my mom's neuro-psych evaluation sent a letter to the DMV in Florida requesting a medical advisory review concerning her ability to drive safely. The letter came today so I picked it up. My mom had intended to have her mail forwarded to her cottage as she has done in previous years but apparently hadn't gotten around to it. No shock there and I was hoping to intercept this letter as I feel if she got it she would have thrown it away.


The letter has a fairly extensive medical questionnaire that she is required to give to her "personal physician" to be completed and returned within 45 days or her license is revoked.


After that the medical board reviews and issues their decision. In looking at the questionnaire I pretty much know my mom will not pass.


My mom is going to be so livid. I'm sure first thing will be hating me for "opening her mail", then she'll blame the doctor who did the neuro-psych eval. Then anyone else in her orbit. This driving thing is a HUGE, HUGE deal to her.


Do I try and take this form to the doctors myself, and not tell her? She's not here to do it herself. Plus I'm afraid if I send it to her she will find some clueless doctor in PA, showboat like hell and then ask that person to fill it out, denying that there is anything of importance in her Florida records.


I'm at a loss. She needs to stop driving, but she won't accept it and I guarantee I will feel her wrath directly. We got into it before she left because she refused to let me put a life alert system in place, even after I offered to pay. The charade of independence is STRONG, even though her deficits are obvious and real.


How do others deal with this?

How about you do nothing?

Re-seal the letter and put it with whatever mail she has. 45 days and her license gets revoked, right?

Piper, you seem to be bothered by your mom's anger. You take it to heart. You allow the idea of her rage affect what you do.

She's a toddler, intellectually. How would you deal with an actual toddler? By ignoring the tantrum. YOU know what the right thing to do is. Just ignore her yelling and nastiness. Leave. Hang up. Go to therapy if necessary (I would CERTAINLY find it necessary!)

But don't let her dementia and craziness define your self esteem. I understand that this is dementia ON TOP of previously existing mental illness, so all the harder to deal with. But realize that it truly is HER and not you.
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ExhaustedPiper May 27, 2019
Thanks Barb, I know you are right. It's a shame how these ingrained long term dysfunctional patterns from growing up never really leave. I have a therapy appointment tomorrow so I'm trying to change. It's hard though when so much of it is like a reflex reaction. I'm going to keep going though, I feel that in time I will get better at dealing with her. I should have started therapy long ago. Oh well. Hoping to develop better coping skills while I have some space for the next ??? I'm guessing 4-6 weeks max.

I don't want to just put the letter aside, as if it's ignored it might buy her time so to speak because she will claim she never received it so they might give her a fresh 45 days to give the form to her doctor. I don't even trust her to do that right, I could picture her giving it to the pain doctor she won't let me near who keeps giving her Vicodin scripts.

I'm going to take it to her main neurologist and let that doctor fill it out as she was the doctor who ordered the neuro-psych eval that triggered this whole thing, and she also has that doctors report. The neurologist will comply, she has to by law.

After that, I can and will monitor the status of her license, and when it is revoked (which I'm sure will happen) then I'll take the appropriate action (take the keys) and block out her wrath.

Thanks again for being the voice of reason. I really appreciate it.
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ExhaustedPiper;

I want to point out to you that the solution you came up with is one that YOU crafted. Not us. You considered the options and the possible outcomes and you chose a very good way to handle this.

You are clearly a smart, capable, empathetic and caring person, even to your mom, who may not deserve such a daughter. You are correct in assuming that your task in therapy is to lose the Pavlovian response to the symptoms of your mom's mental illness and dementia. She trained you well to respond to her rages with Fear, Obligation and Guilt. This creates the well-know FOG that you deal with when trying to act and think rationally around her.

You're getting there! My hat is off to you.
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MaryKathleen May 29, 2019
Barb, what a beautiful, loving, true response.

ExhustedPiper, You did craft your response. I had 6 years of therapy, and a 50,000 mile checkup now and then. Keep at it, You are cared for by many people and please stay on this forum and let us care and love you. Your husband taking the keys is perfect. Give that wonderful man a kiss and a hug.
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I would do exactly what you are going to do. There is no way if Mom got that letter that she would have taken it to the doctor. Fill out what you can and take it to the doctor. She will never know. She will just get a letter from DMV asking her to hand in her license.

Please, don't feel guilty about this. I really think there should be stricter laws concerning the elderly and driving. Also, that doctors must be the reporter and not expect family to handle it.

I thought FLA was a state that tested their elderly periodically for driving?
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anonymous903302 May 27, 2019
In my experience, it's just a mandatory eye exam.
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I went through a very similar thing with my in laws. None of my family would write to DPS to ask for an evaluation. They both have dementia. Have gotten lost while driving and has had a wreck. My personal doctors have told me that I am doing everyone on the road a favor and my in laws a favor by getting them off the road. I'll take the wrath. I do anyway for everything else. That's a fact. They've yelled at me, pounded the table. Neurologist has told them no driving. Some see driving as their last bit of independence that has been taken away. They do not see that it is for their safety and the safety of others. Do what needs to be done!
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My dad lost his driving privileges because of dementia in December of 2017. He continued to drive for over 6 more months without a license. I was scared to death something would happen. I tried a mini intervention in April of 2018 to get his keys from him (zipped in his pocket 24/7). I had to physically force myself to take them. He became so violent we had to call the police and they put him in handcuffs and took him away in an ambulance and he stayed in the hospital for a few days on a medical hold, only to find after that there were extra sets of keys I didn't know about. No, that did not stop his driving. The DMV failed to have him turn in his old license when he got his ID card and in his mind, he still 'had a license' because it was still in his wallet. I got to know the sheriff in his neighborhood and used to leave phone messages for him when my dad was out so they could pull him over. Finally one day, the sheriff called me and he was at dads. My dad was sitting in his car in the driveway and the sheriff had taken the hard copy of his license from him. After that, he said he no longer had a license and did not drive on the street anymore but he still drives back and forth in and out of his garage. Unfortunately because he is on his own property, the sheriff told me there is nothing we can do. The caregivers are the ones that usually drive his cars now. Just because they revoke his license, it does not mean they won't still drive.
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jacobsonbob May 29, 2019
I suppose he got a certain amount of pleasure driving out of the garage and back. At least that way he would be unlikely to hurt anyone but could dent the car--if he did that, then that could be the "AHA" moment that points out that he should give up driving completely!
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My 90 year old father starting driving on the "farm" when he was 12. Not so much as one ticket or accident until he turned 89. Then as dementia began he started having minor scrapes and rubs on his vehicle. I knew that dad probably should stop driving but being so independent I chose not to do anything (guessing I knew the fallout would be huge). My brother (who lives with him) refused to even discuss having his license revoked (no doubt afraid he would have to drive dad). One day I saw the side view mirror was missing - dad couldn't remember hitting anything. The police brought him home at 4:00 am because he had curbed it and got a flat tire. He told them he was going to the doctors. Neither the police nor his clinic doctor (various doctors alternate seeing patients) pulled his license. I rode with him to see first hand if there was a problem. He went through two red lights and drove about 20mph in a 50 zone. I went to my doctor, explained the situation and got dad to come for a appointment. He failed the medical tests horribly. Three weeks later the DMV sent "THE" letter. He was furious at the doctor (and at me). He took my brothers keys a couple weeks later and went out Christmas shopping. The police stopped him 1/2 mile from home for which he incurred $840.00 in fines. This still did not daunt him, to this day he would drive if he found anyone's keys and does not understand why this happened to him. It is a battle 10 months later. But as guilty as I felt having this done to him, and as sneaky as I feel warning everyone to pocket their keys, I know it is the right thing. Do you want to wait until your Mom is injured? Do you think maybe you can wait until something happens? Could you live with yourself if Mom injured or killed another person from her alterned driving? I knew Dad would lose his pride, independence, and freedom when I did this, but I also knew it wasn't going to get any better and I wasn't going to take any chances. I now take my father for a ride every Sunday and Wednesdays are set for his errand days. He's not entirely happy and it is another job for me - but it's the best I could do and feel it was the right thing to do.
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ExhaustedPiper May 30, 2019
Wow your dad and my mom should meet, they might be soulmates. Honestly, you did the right thing and I feel very similar to you. Putting people's very lives at risk outweighs her need to independence and pride.

I also like your idea of having a schedule. I plan to do the same. I will not be "on call" 24/7 but I will set aside two days a week to take her wherever she needs to go.

BTW how is your dad doing with your brother? Are their living arrangements working out okay?
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As difficult as all this is perhaps you first and foremost consider the possible victims out there that might be affected by her driving at this point. I am sure you wouldn't want their welfare and potential lives at stake. Then you consider the potential lawsuits.

I think your answer as knowing what you need to do in regards to getting the notification to her doctors in Florida makes sense. This has become a legal matter. Her wrath is not more powerful than the law.

Then I am hopeful you sort this out in therapy and eventually find some peace and strength.
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Reply to Riverdale
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I'd try to lower your expectations of your mother's behavior, reactions, responses. She may be very upset, but, it will pass. She will likely be upset about something else later on. I'd also keep in mind that eventually, she forget about driving at all. And not remember how it was that she stopped driving.

I think that it's very common for people who have dementia to be extremely agitated, resistant to care, even aggressive. If it's not this thing, it'll be another and many more. Rarely do we have LO's who have dementia who are compliant, calm, cooperative, etc. It's usually very challenging on a daily basis, and for imaginary things or simple things. For me, reading a lot about dementia behavior and lowering my expectations helped. If you don't you are on a roller coaster ride, waiting for the next explosion. Someone who is comfortable taking responsibility and who can not take it personally will need to lead the way and protect her from herself. Keeping a person who has dementia happy, content and without issue, is just not feasible, based on my experience.
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A few weeks ago, 2 elderly women from the Bay Area, both suffering cognitive decline, took a drive down to my neck of the woods. Roughly a 115 mile drive. I don’t know if anything happened on the way down but.......they did a hit & run sometime after arriving in town, I believe they hit a parked car and kept going. And then when they left for home, they got on highway 1 and drove several miles going NORTHBOUND in the SOUTHBOUND lanes, before the highway patrol got them stopped! They are lucky they didn’t kill someone!

I hope the driver’s family took away her keys after that.......
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Do what you know you need to do. I lost a good friend because some senior was driving only because her family was too chicken to get her keys away from her. She plowed right into my friend who was on a motorcycle killing him. To me her family was just as guilty as she was.
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ExhaustedPiper May 30, 2019
I'm so sorry about your friend. Thank you for sharing what happened, because it only strengthens my resolve to see this through.

I'm very sorry for your loss. That never should have been allowed to happen.
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