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    • CommentAuthorAdmin
    • CommentTimeSep 6th 2007 edited
    Today's blog is about the driving issue. Sorry it is late being posted, but we've had medical problems here today - so I'm behind in everything.

    The driving is, without a doubt, the most difficult subject in this house. Nothing, absolutely nothing, causes more anger in my husband than this one. So far, based on the mini-mental and other factors, the doctor has limited, but not eliminated, the driving. Local, familiar, daytime driving. And he does fine with that, but when the time comes that he has to stop completely............I think I won't think about that now. One day at a time.

    How did you handle this issue?
    • CommentAuthoringe
    • CommentTimeSep 6th 2007
    I guess I'm more lucky than most of you. We gave up our second car when it needed too much repair and my husband has never attempted to drive the newer car. I think he is afraid he wouldn't be able to figure it out.
    He confessed yesterday that he got lost the last time he tried to visit his brother and spent half a day making his way back home without ever reaching his brother.
    I took the opportunity to say it's better he let me do the driving and I don't mind taking him where he wants to go.
    Still, he says he feels as though he is in jail. So sad.
    I am also fortunate that this has not become (yet?) a hot issue for us. Jeff's tendency to have a passive nature has--mostly--increased with AD, and I just automatically assume driving duties. He realizes why, but feels (as usual) that I'm simply being my control-freak self. That is his explanation for most of the changes that have occured--I am a control freak, becoming more so with age. Oh well...I just let him think that. It works.
    He still has a car which he drives locally--his hardware store (now owned by his brother,) Starbucks at the grocery store...sometimes just slightly farther if he knows the area well. But even locally, if he's looking for a place he's not super-familiar with, he can easily just not find it.
    I hope we won't have any more of the episodes that occured a year or so ago--he tried to drive somewhere got dark...he couldn't see, and had to abandon the car somewhere and call me.
    Dh is still able to drive. Last month he moved our daughter from one apt. to another. Her college is a few hours away. Unfortunatly in addition to the "move" he had to go to her aptartment one week earlier for the pre-move to help with packing. My daughter went with him so he wasn't alone.

    We have talked about when the time comes he will give up his vechial.

    P.S. Where is the spell check??? LOL
    • CommentAuthorJOYCE L
    • CommentTimeSep 6th 2007
    Driving has been one of the biggest problems we've had. Bill hasn't driven for over six years but he still insists he just drove yesterday. He is f
    orever going outside to check on his car. At times it's his dad's car. Dad's been gone since 1973, but he doesn't remember that either. I always keep the car locked and I took his keys away from him. I was afraid he would mess up the door locks by using what ever key he could find so I rounded up all loose keys laying around. The last episode we had I told him the car was broken and I had called the dealer to come fix it; they were coming in a couple of days. That worked until I had to go to the store and they it broke again.

    There was one time he become so aggressive about the car that I had to cal 911 and we ended up putting him in the hospital for two weeks for medicine adjustments.

    If it weren't for the car, his mother and dad and going home, things would be pretty good around here.
    • CommentAuthordarlene
    • CommentTimeSep 6th 2007
    This is soo hard. They lose their independance when the keys are taken away. This caused all kinds of anger, frustation and depression for Ralph. He had a car accident and that ended the driving and the insurance. Thank goodness he was not hurt, or hurt anyone. He ended up in a ditch in someone's yard.
    The last year he drove he was not doing a good job. He got very careless and scared me, so I drove as much as he would let me drive. We almost had accidents several times and I would have him pull over and I would drive.
    • CommentAuthorLeighanne
    • CommentTimeSep 7th 2007
    This is a current problem for us. I'm in the process of selling our second car. We had talked about it about a month ago and Robert was ok with it. I mentioned having the ad put in the paper yesterday. He got a little upset. He didn't freak out or anything, but I could tell that it hurt his feelings. He's doing a little better with the Namenda, but I really don't think he should be driving.

    It is very difficult for me to tell him that I don't think he should drive. I just don't know what else to do.

    • CommentAuthorGraceHM
    • CommentTimeSep 7th 2007
    My experience was quite similar to Inge's. My husband and I moved here almost 5 years ago and shortly thereafter he wanted to go to the store. I had asked him to wait a few minutes and I would drive him there. He immediately reacted to my request and said he knew how to get to the store and back again without my help. The store is only 1 mile away (straight down the road). Needless to say, he made it back home about 1 1/2 hours later (it should have taken him all but about 10-15 minutes). I said nothing to him when he arrived home. Another hnour passed and he then stated "You know I got lost". I just replied that I thought so and said no more.

    That was the last time he drove - it was his decision to stop driving. Up to that point, there was no way I could talk him into not driving. Even though I was quite worried about him at that time, I now consider the experience to have been what was needed to solve this problem and also to have been quite lucky it turned out the way it did. No accdients, no tickets, and no more driving.
    • CommentAuthoringe
    • CommentTimeSep 7th 2007
    Leighanne, you are absolutely doing the right thing. Your husband will be upset, he will react to losing his independence but it will give you peace of mind and will prevent possible tragedies.
    I agree with everyone else, this is one of the hardest things we have to do as spouses.
      CommentAuthorNew Realm*
    • CommentTimeSep 7th 2007
    we live in what I call a one horse town. DH can take our road 1/2 mile down hill and be on the one and only street in town that has the grocery, post office, city hall, gas station, library, bank, feed store, pharmacy, and a couple more businesses. Near impossible to get lost. He has voluntarily refrained from driving anywhere that requires him to leave his beaten path. Never freeway either. Its pretty much automatic that when we go anywhere together he assumes I'm driving. I have to say he is still quite sharp, quick reflexes........its so far just his loss of directions. Those familiar places he suddenly couldn't find in just this past year have pretty much made him have no interest in driving. His doctor has not ordered him to stop driving, and I feel (fingers crossed this stays true) once the doc tells him to stop he will.
    Our GP began telling Gord and I that Gord should no longer drive. That was about 4 years ago. Of course, he passed the buck to me to stop him. Then he decided to pass the buck to the neurologist. The neurologist looked quite annoyed when I told him and said that if I was concerned, there were special places that would test his driving. Gord had his first test in January 2004. He passed on the condition that he take some lessons from them. He had 6 lessons and then they said he could drive and gave us that in writing. Suddenly the GP was patting himself on the back for his cleverness at telling us about the driving test(????). After some time, he began nagging again and Gord was once more tested in February of this year. He passed without having to have any lessons and doesn't have to go back until February o 2008. Of course they expect me to watch him carefully which I do. Unfortunately, I don't drive so once Gord loses his license, we will be going by bus and taxi. I still wouldn't let him drive once I think he has lost his ability. He doesn't know how to get anywhere so I have become the navigator. He no longer drives at night or on the highways.
      CommentAuthorchris r*
    • CommentTimeSep 11th 2007
    Hi, I'm brand new here, and so happy to find a spousa website. I sold our second car about 2 months ago, Our neurologist told my DH that he shouldn't drive a year ago, but he continued, regardless. I must admit to bing an enabler. Now, however, we just came back from 3week vacation (that's another story) and I'm going to tell him that the doctor said he can't drive. I was making a judgement that he still could, but his AD has gotten much worse, and his memory is so bad now that I'm afraid he will mistake the gas for the brake. Also, the stress of driving causes him to get very angry at the other drivers, and when he sees someone who (according to him) is doing something wrong, he chases them and flases his headlights at them. Unfortunately, he is also a terrible passeger. he has not driven alone in years, not since he got lost following me home from the service station when one of our cars was bing repaired. I'm hoping when I tell him the doctor said he shouldn't drive, he'll accept that, but it's time to go to the neurologist again anyway. Thanks for being here. chris.
    • CommentAuthorAdmin
    • CommentTimeSep 11th 2007
    Welcome to my website and message boards. I do hope you will find the support and information you have been seeking. I invite you to read all of the previous blogs - I know you will be able to relate to most of them. I am away this week, so there won't be a blog every day, but I'll do my best to keep checking in.

    I know it's not funny, but I couldn't help chuckling a bit when you said your husband gets angry at other drivers, chases them, and flashes his headlights. I can relate so well. My husband was ALWAYS an aggressive driver BEFORE he had AD. Of course, EVERYONE ELSE was in the wrong. Most of the time, I sat in the passenger seat with my eyes closed. He always drove in the left lane on the highway, and if someone was too slow - he tailgated them, flashed his lights, and I had to listen to a lecture about how one is supposed to drive in the left lane.

    The irony of this is that now that the doctor has given ME the job of monitoring his driving, Sid is so afraid that we will make him stop, that he is the most careful driver on the road. Because it is so exhausting for him to keep his concentration for a long period of time, he is restricted to local, daytime driving, and he does fine with that. His sense of direction was always 110%, and it is still up there about 85%. I have no sense of direction - check out the blog on "Changing Places with my Alzheimer Spouse" - it discusses that situation.

    So, again, welcome. Everyone who writes on these boards is supportive and understanding. The issues of spouses really are unique. Only we understand.
    • CommentAuthorJOYCE L
    • CommentTimeSep 11th 2007
    I never waited for the doctor to tell Bill to stop driving, when he fell asleepat the wheel, I told him I wouldn't ride with him again. He said it only happened because he had been driving all day. He had only been driving an hour. Then he had a fainting episode and I used that as a reason to not drive. I told him we didn't know why it happened and there was no warni ng when it did happen and we couldn't take a chance. He had a second fainting episode and that cemented the deal. He hasn't driven in probably 5 years now and it is still one of our biggest problems.

    No more fainting episodes in three years.
    • CommentAuthordoxie2
    • CommentTimeSep 11th 2007
    First of all I must say this is a great website. Thank you Joan for giving us a place to turn to with all the everyday challenges that our friends and family don't want to hear about. My husband was told last week by his neurologist that he can no longer drive. I had to smile when he said "I can go out there and drive home right now." I knew he would not have able to figure out which way to turn leaving the parking lot. Anyway, I sold his favorite car this weekend, he is telling our friends that he was shanghied. I had his other car towed to a repair shop and told them to take their time getting it fixed. As I work full time his driving is one of my big concerns. I was always afraid he would try to find me and get lost. The last time he actually drove out of our neighborhood I got a call from the fire department. He had gone there because he could not find his way home. Now he really doesn't want to drive he just wants his car in the driveway.
    • CommentAuthoringe
    • CommentTimeSep 13th 2007
    I thought the issue of driving was put to rest. My husband hasn't driven since we gave up our second car almost a year ago. He admits to getting lost going to see his brother.
    Then out of the blue while we were going for a drive he said" next summer I'm going to learn how to drive this car". I just said next summer is a long way off and there are now a lot of crazy drivers on the road. Hopefully the issue is forgotten again for now.
      CommentAuthorchris r*
    • CommentTimeSep 16th 2007
    Well, I told my DH that he couldn't drive unless he took the test, he didn't speak to me for 3 days... that he remembered (ha ha) Anyway, yesterday was my daughter's 40th birthday celebration.... everything was in the car, and he said, I'll drive there and you drive back. I said no. and then I was berated about all the things I do wrong when I drive , etc, etc. Anyway, he beat me down, and I let him drive there. He did better than he has in a long time, I think because He wanted to prove me wrong. I played the XM radio on the 40's music which seemed to keep him calm. I just didn't want my daughter's day ruined. So that's where I am now on this issue. I guess it's one day at a time.
    • CommentAuthorLeighanne
    • CommentTimeSep 17th 2007
    Robert kind of pouts about not driving. He says 'you won't let me drive'. But he never attempts it. He's been home all day today with a car in the garage. So, I think that he knows he shouldn't drive, but he gets upset when I tell him he can't drive.

    • CommentAuthorJane*
    • CommentTimeSep 29th 2007
    When I had to stop my husband from driving, of course by that time the logic of reasoning was gone. I told him that he had driven all these years and I needed to practice, that he should want me to be able to drive some. I told him that I had always rode with him and never gave him a problem about driving and that now it is my turn. After a very short while he forgot that he had ever driven. If you can believe this. I know that some of you do not have spouses in the advanced stages but yes, they will forget that they have ever driven. They will forget what money is, they will forget everything. In the beginning of this disease I was told that my friend's Dad forgot what a Social Security Check even was, I remember thinking to myself how in the world can that be. No one would forget something like that, well believe me it happens. it is unreal. The best thing is to distract when talking about driving, just get in the car and drive like it is a normal thing for you to do. Pretty soon they will forget all about it.

    • CommentAuthoringe
    • CommentTimeSep 30th 2007 edited
    The issue of driving reared its head again last night. I am beginning to have a terrible time driving at night, the lights bother me immensely and I can't judge distances between us and oncoming traffic, making left turns difficult. I made the mistake of mentioning it to which O replied he can do the driving at night. I had to think fast and told him he would be my eyes, helping me in those left turns.
    We then dropped the issue but it is a real worry and another one that I will have to keep to myself from now on.
    We don't go out much at night so it is not a huge problem.
    • CommentAuthorAdmin
    • CommentTimeSep 30th 2007
    That is a big problem for us, too. I haven't been good at driving at night since I was in my late 40's. Except for occasional "musts", I really haven't driven at night in close to 10 years. Since it's not good for Sid to drive at night, except right around town, it's seriously restricting where and when we can go anywhere. If we go out with some friends who know and understand his situation, they drive, but if we have to go a long distance ourselves, we have to be home before dark. It puts some serious dampers on the social life we still have.
    • CommentAuthorAdmin
    • CommentTimeJan 29th 2008
    Bebe asked the following driving question at the end of another discussion, so I moved it to this topic:

    "Another thing--when my husband was first diagnosed with dementia, he had to stop driving. Mayo said they were required to report a diagnosis of Alzheimer's-type dementia to the State DMV. I am puzzled that some of your spouses are still driving."

    I wanted to know if anyone else encountered this in their State? Our neurologist said, because of privacy laws, he was not obligated, unless supeonaed (sp?), to give out that information. I will ask him again when we see him on Thursday.

    Driving continues to be a HUGE issue in this house. The mechanics of Sid's driving continue to be good, and his sense of direction, which has always been excellent, is still very good. It has taken a year, but we have curtailed his driving to the point that he drives only locally, and only in the daytime. We are about to sell my car, and go down to one car.

    • CommentAuthorsavadele
    • CommentTimeJan 29th 2008
    Yes, here in California, a physician is required by law to report the medical diagnosis of AD or dementia to the DMV. My LO's AD was confirmed yesterday by both his neurologist and the doctor at UCLA, (He had a PET scan). Both said they were required to report it. That was the biggest fear that he had. It is hard because he drives every day to the country club to play golf. He doesn't want his buddies to know about his AD. He is still functioning on a high level but of course if you know him well you can see his memory is slipping. I do most of the driving anyway. I tried to sound positive and light hearted about it. I told him I would be his live-in chauffer. I will even buy a hat! I told him I never liked the way he drove anyway.

    Please be aware though that even if there are similar laws in other states, if your husband/wife is in even a slight fender bender, the liability will be on you. And we have enough to deal with, don't we? My sister in Texas is also having to face life with her LO with AD. Ironic, isn't it? We are very close and now we share this. Her husband voluntarily gave up driving.
    • CommentAuthorkay kay
    • CommentTimeJan 29th 2008 edited
    In 2003 my LO was diagnosed with AD. I noticed my LO was having some difficulity with driving. His decision making and reaction time were getting a lot slower and I felt he was not the safe driver he has always been. One morning when we went to eat at a local restaurant, he got out of the car and motor was still running. Luckily, he had put it in park before exiting the car and luckily, I was with him. I turned it off, and told him what happened. He was very upset that he did that. I told him maybe I should start driving us from now on and he agreed with me. I was very lucky and he never drove after that. We sold our second car and the only car we had has a theft lock out system on it and he had trouble figuring it out anyway. If he had ever demanded the keys from me, then I would have taken the computer button off the key chain and handed him the key with the door remotes only. He could get in the car, but, would not be able to start it. It would sound like the battery was dead on it, so, that is what I was going to tell him.

    We had a very terrible accident happen here last year on I-37, between Corpus Christi and San Antonio. A man, that was diagnosed with AD, went a couple of blocks to the store, but, never returned. I guess when the sun started setting, he become lost and confused and was driving up the wrong side of the highway at about 65 MPH when he hit a car with two college students in it. Everyone in the accident were killed. I just found out about 6 mos. ago that one of my favorite CNA's in my husbands Alz. unit, was the Aunt of the boys killed in the accident. Just like Savadele stated, the liabliity will fall upon you, if an accident happens.

    Luckily, my husband gave up his keys, but, I had already made up my mind that I was going to take them away from him anyway as I could see he was no longer safe driving and he did get confused at times. I knew in my mind, this was only going to be a matter of time before something bad could happen. On the outside, he seemed very normal, but, I knew he wasn't and that worried me everytime he went out somewhere with the car. This is a very hard decision, because this is the last bit of freedom our LO's have left, but, it is also left up to us to monitor their driving and when we must take the keys. We live with them everyday and see the changes that no one else sees. I knew he was not competent to be on the road safely. To me once my LO started getting confused on the way home, this was a red flag something is not right, and he should no longer be driving. But, with everything else with Alz., it is an individual decision.

    Take care.

    Kay Kay
    • CommentAuthorJan K
    • CommentTimeJan 29th 2008
    I’m sorry, but I don’t really understand letting someone with dementia continue to drive. I hear people say that their loved one gets frustrated and angry easily and gets lost--but they keep driving. Is that safe? At some point you have to realize that it’s NOT the person with dementia who should be making life-and-death decisions. Try explaining to someone’s parents that your husband ran over their child because you were afraid that he would get upset if you didn’t let him drive. Or imagine living with your husband having killed a car full of people because he was driving the wrong way on the freeway. You say that they don’t drive there, but if they get lost going somewhere, how do you know that they won’t end up on the freeway? (This happened near where we live.) You can not always let someone drive until they voluntarily decide to stop. It’s not fair to the people they share the road with.

    In “There’s Still a Person in There – The Complete Guide to Treating and Coping with Alzheimer’s”, it says: “…but driving ability is often one of the first skills lost to Alzheimer’s. Even mild Alzheimer’s disease more than doubles the risk of auto accidents, according to the National Institute on Aging. A recent Swedish study shows that auto accidents may even serve as an early warning sign of the disease because driving demands skills often lost very early in Alzheimer’s—continual processing of new learned information and split-second decision-making based on that information.”

    Letting someone continue to drive when WE KNOW that their mental faculties have declined is just wrong—wrong and dangerous. (And we know when the time has come to stop driving before the doctor does. Has the doctor ever been in a car with them?) It’s not an easy situation to deal with. I know, because my husband hasn’t driven in over four years. He wasn’t ready to give up driving. And yes, I had to be the “bad guy”. But better that than a tragedy that could have been avoided.
    • CommentAuthorAdmin
    • CommentTimeJan 29th 2008
    Author: Bettyhere Time1 hour ago

    In California, doctors are required to report demented patients to the DMV. That's what happened w/my DH and I'm glad. Who cares about someone's privacy when he might kill you and your child--which is exactly what happened a few years ago at the Santa Monica Outdoor Market. A terrible tragedy.

    • CommentAuthorBebe
    • CommentTimeJan 29th 2008
    One of my husband's first concrete, repeatable signs that AD had kicked in was that no matter if he was driving (this was 10 or 12 years ago) or walking and had to make a turn, 100% of the time he would turn the wrong way. I could understand 50% but 100% is just too weird. Now if he is at a mall or restaurant and goes to the restroom, he will turn the wrong way coming out--100% of the time.
    As the NP at our clinical trial said to me today, when she was going over questions with me:
    "We usually recommend anyone with a diagnosis of mild to moderate dementia stop driving."

    Yeah, I said. I think so too. Jeff drives to a morning exercise class, 10 minutes away at the community college. Other than that, we've
    mostly phased out driving. I need to find a way to phase that one out too. He used to use a gym which is walkable from here, but they dropped
    his class. Unfortunately, because of getting a kid to school, I am unable to drive him at the time his current exercise class meets.

    Hmmm...problem to solve. Without making it lose-lose.
    • CommentAuthorLeighanne
    • CommentTimeJan 30th 2008
    Robert had already stopped driving. The car sat in the driveway for over 6 months and no one touched it. So, I sold it. Then he was placed on Exelon and Namenda. After a couple of months on the medication, he sort of "woke up".

    He's now driving again. I don't have any hesitation to let him drive. He is as safe as I am on the road. I think it's a very personal decision. Statistics can say what they will. But we all know that this disease affects everyone differently. It's a difficult decision but I think it's one that every family has to make for themselves.

    Do you understand that if he has an accident, even if it is not his fault, that you could lose everything you have in a lawsuit. Leighanne, I understand your feelings about this, but I think you are in denial. Please talk to his doctor.
    • CommentAuthorsavadele
    • CommentTimeJan 30th 2008
    Bettyhere is right. Your LO may still be able to drive. My husband certainly can. However, once a diagnosis had been made, all liability falls upon you. Besides, as we all age our response systems are slower and add to that the disability of AD. While some have high levels of function, the responses may be impaired just enough not to be able to react in traffic. An older friend of mine who doesn't have AD was in a very serious accident. It was the other drivers fault, (young girl driving too fast and talking on a cell phone). My friend was seriously injured, later she said, " I saw her coming at me, but I just froze." So why take the chance. You might want to consider hiring a college student part time to take your LO on errands and the like. I know, I know...another young driver but you can call the shots...check out his/her driving record...stipulate the terms, etc. I know about this because I was the Director of the university's student employment office for a number of years. A lot of college students who work are very responsible. Think about that as an option

    • CommentAuthorAdmin
    • CommentTimeJan 30th 2008
    Our doctor's appointment was postponed until Monday, so we won't get the lowdown on all of this until then. The problem in Florida seems to be stupid laws - According to the doctor's secretary, Florida law goes by the mini-mental (we all know how accurate that is in assessing functionality - NOT!). They don't consider anything over 26 (Sid's last one was 29)a driving concern BUT, BUT, BUT, if there is a diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease, REGARDLESS OF THE MINI-MENTAL SCORE, and the person is in an accident, I AM LIABLE. So basically, the law says he can drive with a score over 26, but I can lose everything anyway.

    In the course of a year, we've gotten his driving down from everywhere and anywhere to a local area of about 10 miles. He will not stop unless the doctor tells him to - we'll see what happens on Monday.

    Wow. I'm kind of freaked now. I just googled around a bit and am finding evidence that you are correct. If there is a known diagnosis, and known impairment then
    allowing the AD person to drive can be considered negligence, and a person injured in an accident where the AD person was at fault can sue beyond the limits set by
    insurance coverage--for all personal property, in fact.
    I'm going to call our insurance broker for their take on it, but I'm certainly feeling the burden of the obvious here. "What do you mean your husband has well-established AD and you're wondering if you should let him drive? (are you nuts?)"
    The obviousity of it all includes the fact that I won't ride with him--I drive.
    The daughters won't ride with him--they drive.
    Other friends/family members have expressed discomfort.

    Jeff does not drive much. Just, as I said, to MWF exercise class in the morning, 10 minutes away.
    poopster. Now I'm going to have to do something about that.

    Anyone want a grimy, banged up 2000 Honda Odyssey?
    • CommentAuthorAdmin
    • CommentTimeJan 30th 2008
    I just got off of the phone with someone from the Florida Highway Department. She was as nice and helpful as could be. (She told me her mother has Alzheimer's Disease). The laws are very complicated in this State, and there is no law that deals with Alzheimer's Disease only. But she did explain all of it to me - I need to take the information she gave me to the doctor on Monday.

    Before everyone has heart failure over this driving issue, I would suggest calling your own Highway Department, and speaking directly with someone who can explain the laws in your State. Especially about driving tests for AD patients.

    She did say that all highway departments are taking another look at Alzheimer's Disease and driving, mostly because people are being diagnosed earlier and earlier, and may not need to give up driving right away.

    • CommentAuthorAdmin
    • CommentTimeJan 30th 2008

    Wow! The woman from the Florida Highway Depatment was true to her word. She just e-mailed me information and links to websites that can answer all types of questions related to Alzheimer's/driving, and Florida laws.

    If anyone from Florida would like the information, e-mail me, and I will forward it to you.

    • CommentAuthorJan K
    • CommentTimeJan 30th 2008
    To Bebe, who wondered why her husband always turned the wrong direction.

    My husband, who has EOAD, wanted me to pass this along to you. He wrote it himself, hoping that it could help somebody else.

    “I have only been lost once. It happened in a hospital corridor during my wife’s trip to the emergency room and in hospital testing for two days. On one of my trips down the hallways, I came to the entrance to her ward. But, the doors were on the wrong side of the hallway! I immediately recognized it was wrong. Jan was walking with me, at the time. I came to a stop, I didn’t know what to do. Jan asked me what the matter was. I did not answer. I had a thought that if I turned 180 degrees, maybe the entrance doors would be in the right place (orientation). I was right, it worked, then I told her what had occurred.

    I can read a map and help Jan navigate if she is heading any direction except south. I can not orientate myself to read and give correct directions the map if we are facing south. So, she is on her own when we head south.

    I hope this may give some insight as to why your husband always turned in the wrong direction. He could not get orientated correctly. His destination is 180 degrees from his perception.”
    • CommentAuthorfaith&hope
    • CommentTimeJan 30th 2008
    This is very sobering - I thought we had a long way to go to get to the driving issue as his diagnosis is only mild dementia. But I can see that may be a problem regarding liablity if anything goes wrong. Also, I live in Flrodia - could you send me those links. Thanks
      CommentAuthorNew Realm*
    • CommentTimeJan 30th 2008 edited
    I learned here in WA that there are ethical reasons for MD to notify DMV when they feel a patient might be unsafe, but it is not a mandate simply based on a diagnosis of AD.
    Also, just as Emily said, since there is a diagnosis of dementia we could be sued above and beyond the limits of our liability portion of insurance if DH were to injure anyone. In other words, sue ME for Negligence. It's a responsibility they put on me. Just another crazy, backward WA law.
    • CommentAuthorLeighanne
    • CommentTimeJan 31st 2008
    Ok. I'm only going to say one thing - I am NOT in denial. I am just trying to navigate these waters like everyone else. I still believe many of our caregiving decisions are personal and unique to our situation. I made a statement and was not looking for advice.

    • CommentAuthorpat
    • CommentTimeJan 31st 2008
    May God bless us all as we navigate. "Jesus, take the wheel"
    Leighanne, don't worry about it. Whether it feels like advice or not, the thing is, this is a subject area that interests any of us whose AD LO is still occasionally driving, so different thoughts and ideas are bound to be lobbed about, from and to anyone who's interested. Of course you are correct that it's up to the individual to decide whether the shoe fits.

    The whole issue of accident liability, as scary as it is, is probably just the angle I need to reduce Jeff's driving to almost nil. He may not agree with "your reflexes aren't up to snuff," but he definitely gets the concept that we are liable beyond the limits that insurance will pay, simply because of his Dx, and is not likely to want to take that risk much.
      CommentAuthorNew Realm*
    • CommentTimeJan 31st 2008
    Same here, Emily.
    DH has not driven -at all- for a few months. But whenever he brought it up I used excuses such as:

    The doctor did say, you can't drive until he's had the chance to assess how well you do on the new medicine.

    Your Keys were lost, and there was no hurry to replace them since the doctor said you can't be driving until AFTER you see him next.

    Luckily he's accepted those THINKING the possibility was open ended. He might ask when his next appt is, but forgets about it.

    But now I feel doubly armed to show him proof that he cannot drive due to the official diagnosis of AD.
    I just have to tell him that he'll will be risking everything, including my future and the kids. Not just his.
    New Realm, you are doing a great job of distracting your husband....hard work isn't it?

    Driving is not a right, it is a privilege.....we don't just hand over the keys to the car to our children when they turn 16, we make sure they are competent behind the wheel and pass a road and written test. Should we expect less from our elderly population?

    I am not being preachy, it is just a many of us have seen elderly people driving slow, turning without signaling, or lost in a parking lot looking for their car? I remember having to take the keys away from my was difficult, but I couldn't live with myself if he had caused harm or worse to some innocent people.

    It is just one of the many hurdles you have to get over in the long road we know as AD. Wish it weren't so, but it is what is is!
    • CommentAuthorBebe
    • CommentTimeJan 31st 2008
    I have qualifier to my message about Mayo reporting to the DMV that my husband had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's-type dementia. Mayo doc said there was a class DH could take (cost $200 at that time) and then if he passed certain tests (I assume written and a driving test) he could still drive on a year-to-year basis. But it was a moot point to us as he had not driven in years.
    Well, I've let the cat out of the bag. I called the insurance company for their take on it without maintaining adequate anonymity, thus unleashing the whole burden of disclosure monster.
    So now the broker and the insurance company know.
    Our status, at the moment, is that if there were an accident, it would be covered but Jeff would immediately be excluded from the policy.
    All completely understandable.
    Had I not revealed this info, that would still be the position of the insurer. They'd cover an accident, but drop him upon learning that we knew of this Dx.
    I still am not sure whether the injured party would have the right to sue beyond the scope of insurance coverage.

    They're going to be sending me some forms to fill out, having to do with doctors' opinions and whatnot. Blech.

    The thing is, this is exactly what Jeff would have done. He is not sneaky at all, and would never stoop to sneakiness. But I might. This time I did not.
    It seems like not a really sneakable issue.
    • CommentAuthorLeighanne
    • CommentTimeFeb 1st 2008
    One thing that my boss suggested to me a couple of months ago is an umbrella policy. This is supposed to protect you (and most of your assets) if anyone ever tried to sue you in situations like this. I haven't looked into, but probably will at some point. Her family has one just because they have a lot of assets to loose.

    Robert will see his doctor every 3 months from now on. They do the full gammet of testing everytime. They use a new test that is sent to a computer in CA for grading(?). I can't remember what it's called but it is much more thorough than the MMSE. It takes about 2 1/2 hours for Robert to complete.

    I will monitor the driving issue based on the results of these tests. The last time he took it (also the first time) he scored an 80 out of 100 which was right in the middle of the normal range. He would have to score below 50 to be considered impaired at all. If he begins to slip toward the 50 mark, I will re-evaluate whether or not he should be driving. Right now, thanks to Exelon and Namenda it seems he is just as capable as I am.

    The next appointment is in March.

    • CommentAuthoringe
    • CommentTimeFeb 1st 2008
    Leighanne, I'm happy for you and Robert that the medication seems to be working for him. I think you are right to monitor the driving issue based on the tests and your own observations of his capabilities.
    My husband seems resigned now to the fact that he can't drive and often talks about how he got lost driving to his brothers. It is so devastating in the beginning to lose this independence so the longer they can keep driving safely the better.
    • CommentAuthorAdmin
    • CommentTimeFeb 1st 2008
    This whole driving thing is a mess - the laws are different in every State. And the laws in Florida are murky. I spoke to our lawyer this mornng. She didn't do much to clear up the situation.

    All I know is that my nerves cannot handle much more of this stress - I am going to hand it to the doctor, and get EVERYTHING IN WRITING. If Sid passes all of the State tests and assessments related to driving, and they let him keep his driver's license, I want it written, signed, and notartized, that the State of Florida says he can drive. If the State overrules my written objections, I shouldn't be held liable. I don't think I asked that of the woman at the Florida Highway Dept. I'll e-mail her now and see what she says.

    The other thing I learned about Maryland, from the Dep't of Transportation website, is that there are certain medical diagnoses which you
    are obligated to disclose at the time of license renewal. (this includes "organic brain syndrome," which is the umbrella AD falls under.) Jeff is due for renewal in September.
    They state that, depending on the nature of the diagnosis, they may follow up with more questions and possibly refer the case to their
    Medical Advisory Board for an opinion.
    Any Medical Advisory Board worth its salt is going to have serious qualms about license renewal for someone with certain areas of moderate cognitive
    So, it was going to happen sooner or later.
    I think I just went and made it sooner. Which I'm feeling a little weird about.
    I don't know of a doctor who would endorse him as a driver, in all honesty, and the crew currently most familiar with him--the Nurse-Practitioner and
    people at the clinical trial watch him crap out on the cognitive tests on a regular basis.
    It's just that he seems to drive more or less ok. But I guess I can't really judge that to be a fair measure of "the right thing to do" in all honesty either.
      CommentAuthorNew Realm*
    • CommentTimeFeb 1st 2008 edited
    This comes from

    Sorry, I'm not computer literate and do not know how to make a "title link" or a "Click here."

    Alzheimer’s, Dementia & Driving
    Driving represents independence, competence and control. It's a means to buy necessities, be productive, stay connected to family, friends and the community and to access healthcare. Concerns about driving often surface during the early stages of dementia when individuals are still independent and able to manage daily activities.
    Alzheimer's is not like other "changes" in later life that affect driving, such as eyesight problems and slow reaction times. Many older adults who don't have dementia can assess their driving changes without family intervention and do make gradual changes to the way they drive. Many are able to continue driving safely throughout their life. With dementia, an individual's capacity to assess his or her driving ability diminishes. They are especially likely to minimize the complexity of driving and overestimate their abilities. They may make excuses for their high-risk driving.
    Those with Alzheimer's Disease and other dementias experience gradual and somewhat unpredictable progression in function loss. Cognitive functions critical to driving, decline; such as judgment, reaction time and problem-solving abilities. Other areas of decline are physical and sensory and they also increase driving risks.
    As driving and assessment skills decline, the risk of serious loss or injury increases. Caregivers must assume the responsibility for monitoring and regulating the driving of the person with dementia. They need to realize that if there has been a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or dementia, a victim of an accident they cause will not stop their suit at the liability limit of the auto insurance. If negligence or a prior knowledge of incompetence can be found they can sue for all a person possesses. Auto insurance will indicate you did not tell them of the medical diagnosis, and you could be on your own to pay the claim.
    Fortunately, in many cases, people with dementia begin limiting where and when they drive. The following signs indicate that a person with dementia is modifying his or her driving behavior:
    Driving shorter distances.
    Driving on familiar roads.
    Avoiding difficult unprotected left-hand turns.
    Avoiding driving at night, in heavy traffic, on heavily traveled roads or during bad weather.
    Resolving the driving issue involves not only substituting other drivers or modes of transportation, but also addressing the reasons people want to go places. Caregivers can look for ways that others can help meet the physical needs of the person with dementia, such as:
    Arrange to have prescription medicines, groceries and meals delivered, reducing the need to go shopping.
    Have hairdressers make home visits.
    Schedule people to visit regularly, either as volunteers or for pay.
    Arrange for friends to take the person with mild dementia on errands or to social or religious events.
    While caregivers consider ways to reduce the need to drive, it's also important to remember the social benefits the person with dementia derives from interacting with others. As one person reflected: "When I went to the bank or drug store, I would stop at the local bakery for some pastries. Sometimes it would take most of the morning because I could take my time and chat with different friends along the way." If caregivers consider the social needs that were met through driving, the transition to not driving will be more successful.
    When possible, include the person with dementia in the planning process. People are better able to respond to appeals to safety during the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease or other kinds of dementia.
    Caregivers need to remember that family members follow long-established patterns for making decisions. It is unrealistic to think that patterns will change when handling a difficult issue like driving safety. Caregivers can work to minimize friction by listening to different opinions and appreciating what each person can contribute, even if it differs from their point of view. Disagreements in families often result when individuals do not have the same opportunities to assess driving abilities. Having factual information about driving behavior does not guarantee families will reach consensus on when to limit driving. However, frequent, open communication about specific, observed behaviors and concerns may help to lessen differences. Everyone involved in caring for the person with dementia can help by focusing on the key issues; the self-respect of the person with dementia and the safety of everyone on the road.

    Information on driving and Alzheimer's was Printed with permission from The Hartford, Hartford, CT 06115. Find out more from them through our state resources.