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My father was diagnosed with Alzheimers dementia a year ago. Two doctors have reported that his driving license should be revoked, he should not be living alone and should not be handling his own finances. I have a DPOA and am his only living relative. He was trying to drive without a valid license and withdrew and lost large amounts of money. I sold his car and now control his finances, and he recently moved into a very nice assisted living facility near my home. Because he acted up when he first arrived the facility will house him only in their Memory Care unit. I visit him frequently but he wants to buy another car, wants to drive and wants to control his money. He's confused and unhappy at his restrictions.


Should I tell him his doctor's orders? Should I tell him he has dementia and cannot control his own money?

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Neither telling your father about his Alzheimer's diagnosis nor telling him that he needs help will solve the problem that your father will continue to want to drive and to control his money. So don't exactly do either of those things, because it will be frustrating and upsetting for both of you.

Thanks to your support and interventions, your father is safely at home in the correct setting for his needs. So that's good: you need do nothing to ensure his actual wellbeing.

Handling his behavioural and emotional needs, next, is a team effort, and there are numerous strategies you can try. Perhaps step one is to stop looking on your conversations with your father about driving and money management as though these were real conversations leading to a real agenda. You're not going to get him a car, he can't drive, and he is no longer able to handle money. That is why the DPOA - which HE gave YOU, remember - is now in force.

But that doesn't mean that you can't have meaningful conversations with him about driving and about his personal finances. These are likely to be circular, and may get tedious for you, but the benefit is that he feels you're listening and is able to express himself. Perhaps you'll be able to divert him onto less controversial topics, such as cars in general, his memories of life on the road, cars he loved, cars that were a pain, Greatest Car of All Time, that kind of thing. And with money management, it might be helpful to have a basic document showing income, outgoings, budget and so on to reassure him that everything is under control.

Masterly inactivity is what you're aiming for, without subjecting him to the confusion and humiliation of being told to his face that he's incapable. He already did the responsible thing in giving you the authority to act for him when he could no longer act for himself. That's all you're doing. Be comforted.
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Yes. Because as an adult, he needs to know the truth. Tell him gently by saying you're really worried about him and that his doctors felt it would be safer for him not to drive anymore. Tell him you can only imagine how hard it must be to give up driving, then offer to take him on a drive somewhere if the facility will allow it. As to his finances just tell him not to worry bc your there to make sure no one will take advantage of him. Then follow thru by giving him some spending money. ($50 might do the trick). Hope this helps!
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I'm new to this site, but I am writing to thank those who posted responses to my question. They were all thoughtful and helpful and I appreciate your help. I'll recommend this site to anyone with similar problems.
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busymom Jan 14, 2019
I have been visiting this site for over a year and can honestly say that this is a caring and compassionate community with a variety of people from many walks of life. From time-to-time, professionals (both medical and legal) respond in very clear and helpful ways, and I personally appreciate this.

Most of all, there are so many people in this world who are caring for elderly loved ones with all types of care needs. If nothing else, this site lets the world know that there are spouses, children, grandchildren, relatives, and wonderful friends who are taking on huge responsibilities for their loved one. Some of these folks have walked through the "valley of the shadow of death" with their dear one(s), and know what that feels like. Their input is greatly appreciated. Some are holding the hands of a confused parent or spouse (with Alzheimer's, dementia, or one who is confronted with cancer). Getting "feedback" from those who have been in this journey is comforting and clearly a blessing.

So come back often and gain insight into many care topics that can help and influence decisions that you may be faced with or that one of your dear friends will be faced with in the future.
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You can tell him he has dementia. Probably will not do much good as he will forget.
You can tell him the doctor said he can not drive, he can not live alone..but again he will forget.
You can tell him that he can drive "when he gets better"..but he will forget that as well.
And I would expect that "acting up" is normal for someone entering into a new place, one that they have had no control over selecting. Being moved from a home that you have been in for sometimes most of your life.
I actually like the idea that they placed him in Memory Care almost right away. Less of a chance he will leave the facility. Also he will not have to adjust to another move in what might have been a month or two..or even a week depending on how fast he declines.
Just tell him he is safe where he is. Tell him that you love him and you want to keep him safe.
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anonymous844677 Jan 14, 2019
I like Grandma's reply
My father is in Memory care and I keep having to repeat myself as he forgets anything I say a half hour later. He's not violent but speaks his own mind.
Tell him that you love him and try to please him .
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If “dementia” implies disorientation, confusion, impaired comprehension and inability to recall and use facts, it would seem to me that attempting to “explain” a diagnosis of dementia to someone who is suffering from it would be a painful exercise in futility for both the LO and myself.
My LO’S first catastrophic failure was realizing, on her own, that she was no longer able to reconcile her check book. I had begun saying a few months earlier that I knew she was a capable driver (she still was), but that the traffic in her neighborhood was so congested and disorderly that it was getting too hard for her to navigate it.
She ultimately agreed, but continued to discuss missing her independence with the car even before and after making a reasonably good adjustment to placement on a memory care unit.
She also has difficult days, and days when she says she can’t remember her own name. We attempted to give voice to the losses that she was aware of experiencing, as she experienced them, without referring directly to a named diagnosis, and that seemed to work well for her.
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Money with seniors can be a relative thing. Does your father have something particular in mind he wants to spend some money on? My father's big thing is having enough money to send my brother out to purchase a lunch for him. Although the MC provides good meals and snacks that he enjoys, emotionally he needs to be able to buy lunch. I give Dad $75 a week in cash from his funds which he gives to my brother for mostly restaurant/grocery store hot bar meals. In over 3 years he has spent less than $100 from his MC account, most of that in the first few months he was there. I visit once a week and "inventory" his clothes, soaps, etc. and provide most of what he needs/wants.

As far as the car, I told my father that I'm so sorry but his driving days are over - it's just not safe for him to be out there alone anymore. Is there someplace he wants to go/visit?

This is a difficult transition. Try to be firm but kind in your language with Dad and shift the focus from what he cannot do anymore to what it is that he is really wanting. My father really likes ice cream sundaes (in my childhood we drove to the local Dairy Cream for treats almost every Sunday) so I make sure I bring one each Sunday when I visit. He might not have the car to get his treat himself, but he accepted just having someone bring it to him.
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This is a good thread, thanks for posting, ahhenry! Good responses. I’m an only too, it can be so hard to tell them No about all the various things. I’m glad you’ve gotten your dad to where he is. I’ll soon have my mom to an independent living apt. within a progressive community, and can’t wait till she’s around more peers who are in the same circumstances. Hopefully that helps them, seeing other worthwhile people who’ve had to ‘surrender’ like they have. I know it helps me, although some people might find that kind of place sad.

With my mom, I’ve been repeating things like ‘you're just slower now,’ trying to convey that being upset about it could be the only thing wrong, and ‘you don’t have to worry about this or that issue, isn’t it a relief.’ I tell her the brain does this, it’s not your doing or your fault. I may need more phrases, but these are helping for now.
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busymom Jan 14, 2019
You're right. It's good to encourage our loved one to know that this is part of the aging process and nothing that they caused or brought on themselves. Letting your loved one know how sorry you are that they have to experience so many losses all at once at least lets them see that you do care. I often had to tell my dad that while I haven't walked in his shoes yet, I will likely someday have one of my children telling me that I can no longer drive and perhaps even have to place me in Assisted Living or Nursing Care facility. I told Dad that I hoped they would learn from my loving care of him, so that when the time came for them to care for me, they would do what is best for me. (And by the way, my kids were very involved in visiting and showering their love on both of my parents even in the hardest of times.)

Some people can accept these life changes better than others. Some people still have enough cognitive skills to evaluate what is being told to them. Some people will not understand no matter how much you try to tell them. However, all people deserve to be loved and treated kindly, whether or not they understand our words—believe me, they will understand our tone of voice and our actions. Holding a hand, a gentle pat on the back, bringing a treat, giving a hug, praying with or singing to, or just listening to whatever is being said can all demonstrate loving concern for our dear ones.
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Oh my goodness I could have posted the EXACT same question!!!
my dad has dementia, had his license suspended, but continued to drive... and LIE about it!(we were 3 states away)
He went to four different doctors (geriatric, neurologist, cardiologist, and neuropsychologist) to try to get his license back. Because of his dementia and OCD, he fixates on “getting his license back.” All 4 doctors told him NO- he cannot drive. He argues with them all, but none of them said “dementia”... they all told him he is “not safe at this time”... I got copies of his paperwork, so when he starts talking about his license, I refer to the “highlighted section” where it says “no driving.” It takes me out of the equation and since he doesn’t know to go about reapplying for his license himself ( never used a computer) he has no options. His cars are gone and we moved him closer to me in a 55+ apartment complex. My only regret is that we moved him SO fast (right from the hospital 3 states away) that AL was not an option. It would’ve taken too long, so he’s now on his own refusing help. You are VERY fortunate that he is in AL already!

my suggestion is to let the doctors tell him what is going on. Instead of saying “you have dementia” they only addressed my dad’s concerns about his limitations... managing his finances, driving, and medication management.
i wish you the best! It’s a tough journey!
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I sometimes go through this with my brother. He will tell me he has no money. I remind him he does have an account with the office for incidentals and tell him how much he has. I also give him his monthly statement. I did try to give him, say $5.00 in singles every now and then, but it always disappeared. So, now I give him a few zero value gift cards to put in his wallet. That seems to appease him and we have a small change jar. I give him lots of pennys to put in and take out. I also try to get him to count the change.
He still tells me he can drive and always asks if he can when I take him out. My answer to that is that we are going someplace new and I'm not sure how to get there and I don't want him to stress out. Basically, I luck out that he goes with the flow... Most times I agree with him and try to redirect the conversations. Just so sad and heart breaking.
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It's not worth the frustration of trying to explain to him that he's losing his mind. It doesn't matter to him. He thinks what he thinks. Plus, who wants to hear that?

Rather than trying to orient him to his situation, try redirection. When he talks about getting his checkbook back or buying a car, change the subject. Ask him a question that will shift his concentration. Like, "Dad, I was trying to think of the name of that street where you and mom lived when you first got married." or "How do you think the Giants (fill in name of favorite in-season sports team) will do this Sunday?" Then, keep it going until he's completely off the topic. Works for me with my stubborn 'give me back my car and checkbook' Dad. Sometimes I don't have the energy for it, so I just let him ramble and I don't say a word. Other times, when I've really had it, I snap at him and feel guilty later. Dementia is a b*tch.
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