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She's 83 and knows her way around town very well. I've ridden with her and followed her in another car and she really is quite a good driver. Am I nuts or what. Her dementia is now in the aphasia stage that interferes with communication, and is beginning to show some impaired judgement. How do I tell her to stop driving when she gets around so well. Never lost, never careless.

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OK - aphasia, but never lost, never careless? This sounds more like stroke than dementia (dominant hemisphere); either way driving alone is hazardous for her though if she can't verbally communicate. Errors in judgement are behind a lot of accidents at any age.
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I would get an answering machine if you do not have one-and turn it down low and just check from time to time if someone you want to talk to calls and let the machine deal with the 30 calls a day-if you feel she should not be driving and is not safe to do so -you have to do what is right and stop her however it take taking the keys away-she might be able to get new ones-disabling the car-removing it from where she live-whatever it is better than what may happen-my husbands aunt was allowed to drive-her son lived near her-one day she way shopping and while she was checking out the counter someone stoll her pocketbook that contained her bankbooks and jewlry and money-she was so upset she had a bad accident on the way home -ended up in the hospital and died a few days later.
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hrachief, ask her doctor to double the dose, and then take half yourself. Oh wait, no, please disregard that ... first thing that came to mind.

I'd remove the car from the premisis. The note I'd put on the whiteboard is "Car in shop. Waiting for part."

I'd stop spelling things out for her. She can't remember. What's the point? Please become familiar with the common behaviors of dementia. You will learn that reasoning with someone who has lost the ability to reason is futile. Save your energy for talking about pleasant things, not why she can't drive.

I would definitely not take 20 to 30 phone calls per day from her. If it isn't safe for her to be living where she is without you being at her beck and call, change where she lives so she will be safe. It sounds like she may no longer be OK for independent living.

I think you are going to need to detach a bit, to save your own sanity.

Will it get better? Well, the dementia will definitely get worse, but whether it will be easier or harder to deal with her remains to be seen.

Continue to love her, reassure her, keep her safe. Give up behaviors that take a lot of effort, are frustrating, and accomplish nothing. You won't be able to change her, but changing a few things in your own behavior can improve your experience.
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I know I sound bitter but when you reach the end of your rope...you are done with people and placating others to keep peace.
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This sounds so familiar. My mother has Alzheimer's and a paranoid personality disorder. Her PCP who happens to be mine as well refuses to report her to DMV (only covering his own ass). I told him she is mentally ill but I really think he doesn't believe it because she is so normal when she comes in to his office. I believe he takes what I say about her as being Alzheimer's related and not mental illness.My mother accuses us of trying to steal her money, place her in a NH,make her think she is crazy, and most recently, accused us of plotting her murder. Finally I was able to get my sister to report her to DMV. She didn't want to do this because DMV won't guarantee confidentiality. I was more than willing to do it 6 months ago but my sister didn't want me to because she is listed first on the POA. and believes she should have authority over me. I am done with that too. I know when DMV notifies my mother all hell with break loose but I don't care.

Go on line and look up DMV in your state. Find the form for unsafe drivers and print it out. Confidentiality is guaranteed to a certain point (meaning that if you are reporting someone out of meanness they won't protect you). ]

I spend very little time with my mother now simply because I have other things to look forward to than dealing with her abuse and I refuse to accept that I am obligated to put up with it just because she is elderly and my mother. I put up with it the first 19 years of my life and I won't put up with it the last years of her life.
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My husband is 75 and has just had to give up driving. Yes it is hard on him and has diminished his freedom a lot. Yes he was mad. Yes it was very hard to tell him. and yes there are times when he looks and feels and is in such an alert frame of mind that I wonder myself if I should not give him back the car keys. " But" like jeanneqibbs said, I cannot count on that odd moment of poor judgement and put his life and the lives of others in danger. Emotions have to be put aside as far as I'm concerned when the safety of my husband and others are put at stake. He Has dementia, his judgment is impaired, I think it is my responsibility to make sure he does not harm himself or others.
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My 85 yr old mom has lost her short term memory. She's recovered from leukemia which she was diagnosed at 83 with and the memory problems started right after chemo. She had a mild stroke and then a TIA. She's been a recovering alcoholic for over 20 yrs but read in a health newsletter that a drink of wine at night was good for the elderly! She thought that was great and started drinking half a jug a day! We had no idea until one day I found it on her shelf. We took her to a treatment ctr to go thru detox but with her dementia - dr said there was nothing else they could do. She's not drinking because we took her keys away but she is driving me nuts with the 20 to 30 phone calls a day wanting her car keys back or wanting to know where they are because she forgets we took them away. Doesn't understand why she can't drive - "never had an accident"!! She can't remember that we tell her we have the keys and why and 2 minutes later she's calling again asking for her keys. When she does remember - we put a white bd up in her rm with it all spelled out - then she calls and chews us out for controlling her life! Someone please tell me this will get better! Looking for any suggestions on how to get through this without me needing help...she's on antidepressant and anxiety pills.
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This happened to me too. I had to call the BMV and have my Dads license revoked to get him to stop driving. He was never a good driver anyway. It has been a battle. He gave his car to his grandson, then turned around and ask for it back. He has even gone so far as to purchase a used car but then had to give it back when he couldn't get insurance because he didnt' have a license. This was 3 years ago and he still won't give it up. He is now trying to purchase a motorized 2 wheel scooter. He has very limited mobility on his left side and is almost totally deaf but he won't let it rest. We have called all the scooter stores in town trying to prevent them from selling him a scooter. It has worked so far. I wish you luck and hope your battle is not as hard as mine has been.
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My mother had passed out right before getting into her car in the garage. she ended up in hospital. That is when we discovered she had dimentia. My brother and i told her she could not drive anymore and took her car. unfortunately our sister told her she did not see why we did that(she visits 2 x's a year). So, we were the bad guys who ruined her life. My brother told her he would not be able to live with himself if she caused an accident and hurt or killed someone and he had not done something to prevent it. A year later we had to move her into assisted living. You are the only one who can make you feel guilty-as somone said to me several years ago-Get Over It! she is 93 now and still ocassionally mentions she should buy a car-she does it 1/2 jokingly. she no longer has a license, but an ID card that looks like one, so she thinks it is a license.
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I went through this with my father and had to be the "bad guy" and keep his keys. I told him he could be mad at me all he wanted but I wasn't giving them back because I couldn't bear the consequences if he hurt someone else. I will tell you that it was the biggest hit to his independence. He still lived alone with help coming in but he needed a social outlet. His wasn't dementia driven but more physical impairment and probably some cognitive. Please be aware of this with your parent if they still enjoy social contact with others.
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it was the hardest talk with my mother a dozen or so years ago, even after a couple of close call incidents. she was VERY ANGRY. we were saved when her car broke down and she couldn't afford to fix it. at the time she lived in a community where everything was a walk away.

you absolutely HAVE to do this. if not for your mother and your family, for everyone else on the road around her. neither of you would be able to live with yourselves if someone else was hurt.

i know someday it will happen to me and i'm going to be very angry. i didn't get my license until i was 40 years old and my truck very very much IS my freedom. i hope i will remember how i feel now. i also want to live in a community with plenty of public transportation when it happens. i think i will write a letter to myself for the kids to give to me.
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I thought about Installing tracking GPS in the car. We have name brand LoJack here. It alerts the location of the car to the sherriff, if she is missing.
My fear with my dad would be that he could drive an entire tank of gas away from us and then start walking. At least that would give us the vicinity and soon after he was missing.
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It had to come from my Mom's doctor while we were there and she handed over the keys to us on the spot. It was traumatic so give her lots of assurance and love. The doctor was gentle and stressed the fact that her family had to know that she was safe.
My dad was more difficult because he felt he had to be able to transport my mom in case of emergency. He was angry and blamed us wickedly! A situation arose that was a surprising help. My dad got wind of a family member in need and donated his car to them! Win/win on many levels!
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This is the talk for children to parents probably as hard as the talk was for parents to their teens.
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TAKE HER KEYS!
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It had to come from my Mom's doctor while we were there and she handed over the keys to us on the spot. It was traumatic so give her lots of assurance and love. The doctor was gentle and stressed the fact that her family had to know that she was safe.
My dad was more difficult because he felt he had to be able to transport my mom in case of emergency. He was angry and blamed us wickedly! A situation arose that was a surprising help. My dad got wind of a family member in need and donated his car to them! Win/win on many levels!
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In NY an elder can drive-no matter haw bad they are unless and until a cop sees something they are doing wrong-usually going the wrong way getting on to a highway-then they have to taake a driving test which they usually can not pass-one thing you could do is have then attend one session with a driving school instructor that would be the safest of course they will pitch a fit but too bad-we just told my husband he was not allowed to drive and since he could not walk very well he was not able to get in the car by himself.
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My ex husband has dementia and the doctor has taken his drivers licience away from him, however, he still thinks he has it. He now takes a taxi to have a drink or two with his cronies and takes a taxi back to the Veteran's Home he lives in.
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Dementia is difficult for the person and family.
I understand that driving is independence but the question needs to be the extent
of the progression. many people are capable of driving during the early stages short familiar distances. i cannot make that decision for you. . I would assess her cognition, and her recent driving history.
if i questioned what i thought her abilities may be and you feel like it is safe, you may take a ride for a short familiar distance. You will find out quickly. Then the difficult decision must be made. Some children tell mom that the car is in for maintenance while they explore resources. , Sometimes the transition is easier if someone is available to offer her company so she will feel like she has a kind companion that wants to take her out.
The most difficult transition is when she becomes the child and you are the caretaker. Dementia is progressive and in early stages the person can function quite well. Safety comes first for your mom and community. Take advantage of the endless resources available on dementia. You are not alone. AAA area on aging, aging connect community social workers. This will be beneficial because other caretakers can offer support and feedback.
Guilt, anger and sadness are inevitable for caretakers but you have to do what is best.. Every situation seems overwhelming and you need the support from other care takers, Their are resources in the community that can help you. If you live in Georgia the Rosalyn carter Institute has several outreach programs. You are not alone and need the support to get through this. please take advantage of community resources or maybe you have a family member that is the best to talk with mom initially. God bless you. Dementia is heartbreaking but you must take care of yourself before complete burnout and that is not beneficial to anyone. i believe in safety first, no matter how uncomfortable you feel. The guilt can be overwhelming but you must move past that to make a decision. Sometimes the environment is not conducive for your mother to live home. please take advantage of aging services in the community
it is dangerous to your mom and community if she truly cannot drive. This loss of independence is trying but you have to make the decision that is best for her. Remember that she may be angry or make you feel guilty so that is why I would seek out dememtia support groups. You will be surprised at others in similar situations.
God bless you because it will be a difficult situation but someone needs to take charge.
Ruthie
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I thank you all for your thoughtful and considerate answers. I have some work to do. Not looking forward to it but you gave me the insight and courage I need. Wish me well.
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I agree with Madge, what color of car does she drive. You ask, how do you tell her to stop driving? Just do it and please do it today. I don't want my daughter and sil to die. Dementia patients with impaired judgment should not be driving no matter how careful they are. When you tell her please don't sugar coat it, just say it. I was in a car accident in which a dementia patient was driving and I am almost died. I know of what I speak of. (sorry, Miss S.)
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Ray and Diane, what a frustrating story! Yikes! Why isn't that doctor worried about being sued by a family who loses a loved one to Dad's unsafe driving?

Has anyone notified the Department of Motor Vehicles? Requiring him to be tested would take it out of the doctor's hands and out of yours. Of course, many people continue to drive even after their license is revoked, but it would be hard for him to claim he is justified.

You must be heartsick feeling that he did not care for your mother appropriately and there was nothing you could do.

Hugs to you!
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Here is Texas anyone can notify the state Dept of Motor Vehicles of an unsafe situation. The dept will mail a notice requiring the driver to come in for a driving
test or face license suspension. They were professional but very kind towards
my mother; she took the road test 3 times over a period of weeks & overlooked
simple things -- once a stop sign, once going the wrong way on a one-way feeder road and once getting lost. She never was able to accept that she might be an
unsafe driver and give up driving gracefully. But when an older driver tells you he/she will only drive on back roads during light traffic hours, a light should go on in your head.
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Terrie, I understand where you're at with all this. Without boring you with our story I'll try to keep it short as possible. Back in November 2011, we stopped in to check on my wife's folks and found that the house & the care for both of them was lacking very much. We moved in shortly thereafter as her father was hospitalized with all the characteristics of having had a stroke but it was determined by the E.R doctor and the floor doctor that he didn't have a stroke at all but it was all dementia related along with a high sugar diagnosis. My wife's mother was in late stage dementia so now we had twice the pain to see her father now go through this terrible disease. Anyway, he had a follow up visit to his family doctor and he saw how dramatically he had changed since his last appointment. Dad asked the doctor if he could drive and he said, "No". -"Never again" because of the memory issues and physical problems. So, we thought, thank God...finally. Wrong! In Jan. this year, Dad had another episode that required he go to the hospital by ambulance. Again, the doctors stated it was dementia, hypertension and his diabetes. Here's where it gets stupid even more, the follow up appointment happened a few weeks later, his family doctor was asked again by Dad, "can I drive?" and this time because Dad was carrying a decent conversation at the time said, "Yes". Dad looked at my wife with a cat cheshire type smile and off he went to the x-ray department to have a knee x-rayed. This same doctor stopped my wife and I, "I just don't want him to sue me". We were furious and still are. OK... now keep in mind during all this time this man is exhibiting the paranoia, confusion, anger, and loads of other adjectives... and after that appointment his demanded to take over with all the medications for Mom and revoked any information from Hospice at Home and the doctors to share anything. He claims he now never did this but bottom line we found ourselves powerless. Adult Protective Services were contacted and they refused to assess him and the situation with Mom. Hospice at Home refused to talk about any of this with us. Bottomline, Mom has died because of his inability to administer meds properly but we cannot get anyone, no one person to act on this. We are legally stifled, this man has gotten much worse since burying his wife this past Friday and has demanded that we leave "his home". He has threatened suicide after my wife took his car keys away but APS and the police will not take this seriously. He drives still and after riding with him I observed that he crossed the center line 5 times, forgot his route to get to his hearing appointment and watched him park his car in half a parking space. This was all documented. We even called out family attorney and he said this will be a tough job to get parental guardianship over him since there is no way power of attorney is an option.
Now, my wife and I have given up on everything. We plan to move out and actually move out of the area, we will leave him alone to hurt himself, hurt someone else... there will be many that would say, "how could you do this" but I will tell you, until you walk in our shoes - the stress is and has gotten us to the point where its dangerously unhealthy. We've done all that we can do.
Dad is a determined and slick man when it comes to concentrating on what he wants, he's proved this time and time again when at the doctors. If you or anyone else has recommendations for our situation as well - I would be glad to hear them. Good luck Terrie, we know the challenge. Ray and Diane -
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And we think driving is just an issue for 16 yr. olds! Keeping a sense of humor helps, however, taking action is just as important. There are countless stories of struggle with our parents and yet we know that if we live long enough somehow we too may be faced with this question. Is it time to stop myself and/or my loved one from driving. Am I now a danger to myself and others? Has my accident/illness reached such a point that I must protect myself and others? I called the Department of Motor Vehicles and obtained a form why I thought she could no longer drive safely. I anonymously provided information about their current health status and medications. In return, my parent received a letter along with a lengthy form to be completed by their doctor during a physcial exam inorder to renew the drivers license. My mother never took the form in and gave up her drivers license begrudgingly. Did she ever accept not being able to drive? No. Did she complain and remain stubbornly firm in her mind that she was able to drive? Yes, for several years until she passed away she continued to harrass me while I drove her places. Now, her sister has demenia and she also refused to have a physcial with her doctor upon the DMV request. She has not driven for several years now, yet her car is in the garage. My aunt does not have car keys. She cannot retain why she no longer drives and blames her youngest son, a nurse, for her own unhappiness over the loss of her driving. Protecting our parents is not easy nor is it fun, yet the other choice would certainly be more painful.
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Oh my goodness. Living in Florida we see alot of this. They go out to see the doctor, get on I-95 and end up in North Carolina, seriously. She will do something to someone, just hope it isn't fatal. By the way, what color car does she drive..........
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You have to do what will be hard but think of what could hapen and how will you feel if she injuries or kills someone-she will get mad and take it out on you but it has to be done for her safety-let us know how it goes you can disable the car to begin with my mother drove well into her 90's and had two accidents -one a hit and run before her car was toteled with her nephews borrowing it -no one was hurt and it was a Godsend but that does not usually happen to stop an elder from driving-you can not expect her doc to tell her -Mom's elderly doc thought it was great she was still driving.
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What will be her living situation once the car is gone?
Sometimes this is best done with two events at once.
My mom lost her license, so we we moved her into an temporary apartment in the walking neighborhood of the daughter who lived in Hawaii. She had a beautiful time in Hawaii with no car. That allowed the mainland family to sell the car and figure out who was going to be taking on all the chaufering that was coming next. Assisted living looked so much better when she came back.
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I am facing the exact same issue with my mom. Mom is 80 and has demenia and macular degeneration. She lives with me & my husband and has her own car. My dad died over 3 years ago & mom isn't mentally able to live alone. Mom has always had a bad temper at times - like bi-polar. 3 years ago she ran into a house and destroyed the kitchen that was built in the corner she ran into. If anyone had been home it would have been worse. She had a flat a few months ago and didn't even know it - rode on the tire & ruined it. Then last month she failed to yield right of way while turning left and smashed another car. No one was hurt, but she swears the other driver was speeding and ran into her. She really showed her temper at the scene & the police officer had to make her stay in her car. She got a citation & the officer said she probably shouldn't be driving. We all know this except for mom - who has been hounding me for a new car ever since dad died. Problem is - I work and we live 3 miles out of city imits. How am I going to get her to the sr center everyday? Maybe I can hire someone to take her? But with her personality disorders I don't have much luck with anyone wanting to be around her much. She might be sweet one day and cuss you out the next day. And she whistles non-stop - drives me nuts.
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My husband didn't want to give up driving either, tho he'd been sidelined by a stroke anyway. It took three doctors to convince him he shouldn't, and it was the psychiatrist who said it best: Maybe you think you can drive, but what if you suddenly get a hallucination while you're driving that someone is running into the street? Could cause a bad accident. But what really helped was selling his truck to a friend. He knew where it was but that he wouldn't be driving it any more. I read that someone else told her mother there was a recall on the car, took it and sold it and told her it was beyond repair. Sometimes it's out of sight, out of mind. (Tho my husband still bemoans his loss of wheels sometimes, just far less often.) Some states also have a test that can be administered - much more official if it comes from Motor Vehicles Dept.!
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