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Alzheimer's Disease & Dementia Message Board

Alzheimer's Disease & Dementia Board Index

baseball, you are back with a whole list of question....

Driving is something you have to deal with. Yes, Mom can get in the car, turn it on, and work the mechanics of driving. She's probably been doing that for 40 or 50 years. It's seated in her long term memory. What she can not do is react to situations in the moment. If she wants to turn right she may or may not check for oncoming traffic. She may or may not see that stop light. She probably will not be able to react quickly enough to avoid hitting that child that runs out into the street. Once something out of the usual occurs she will not know what to do. She may hit something and just drive off. The possibilities are endless and can be catastrophic. I understand not wanting to be the heavy so here are two solutions. Talk to her doctor, explain that she has gotten lost on familiar trips and that she should not be driving. Let him be the one that tells her she can no longer drive. In most states he can notify the driver's license bureau and they will recall the license. Then he is the heavy. Or, call the Alzheimer's Association and find your local driving test center that can test for not only physical ability to drive but also cognitive ability to drive. If she passes she can keep driving, but if she fails there goes her license. Then you are not the heavy. But this has to be dealt with ASAP.

Telling Mom of her diagnosis may or may not be a good idea. It depends on the person with the disease and where they are in the disease. I did not discuss the diagnosis with Mom because this disease was her worst nightmare. She was in denial and any mention of her having it would being out the worst because of her impaired ability to deal with emotional overload. She was in the mid stages when she was diagnosed as well and the later in the disease the more unlikely they will comprehend and retain any conversation. You have to ask yourself... How is Mom going to deal with the information, is she going to benefit from having the information, is it going to upset her in the moment and not be remembered, will it give her a reason for her confusion and be a benefit? Only you can answer those questions.

Siblings deal with this disease differently. As Luau said some will jump on board and some will stay on the shore. Some will talk a good game and do nothing while one or two carry the load. Some will do nothing but complain. Other will just stay far far away. Which ever way a sibling falls there is not much you can do about it. It is their choice and the only choice you have is to go forward in what needs to be done. Please don't let their decisions become another negative for you to deal with. You have enough :) You can share information with them about the disease and Mom but that's all you can do. They will have to find their own way.

As for Mom being mean... yes we do see what this disease does to a person as mean. They lose their social filters and their ability to make good judgement. They react in the moment without consideration of other's feelings. They do become self centered. It is all about them and what they feel in the moment. If they forget, unlike us, there is now shadowy memory to bring forward. Their forgetting is as if it never happened. This is their reality and it is as real to them as our is to us. So if we argue with them we are making it all worse. They have no idea how to express emotions so they attack. Mom may be yelling at you but what she's really saying is that she is scared, confused, and frustrated because she has no idea what is going on in her world. She may strike out at you when she is really saying, I'm hungry or in pain. She may be angry at something that happened on TV and take it out on you :) You did right to ask for the antidepressant. If her meanness turns to aggression, combativeness, or extreme anxiety you may want to ask for medication to control that as well.

Yes, your sister has bitten off a huge job trying to take care of Mom. I might suggest that you and the other siblings take a day or weekend or week with Mom to give sister a break occasionally. Set up Meals on Wheels so she doesn't have to cook in the middle of the day. If Mom is keeping her up all night a care giver a few nights a week to watch Mom so sister can get some sleep might help. If you need to be the heavy to get things done so the sister will not have to do it then do that for her. Better you that can leave than sister who has to stay there. The focus is on Mom to take care of her but the focus also needs to be on the sister that is with her.

You need a family meeting with everybody present so you can all get on the same page. There needs to be an honest discussion about what is, what needs to be done, and who is capable of doing it. Not just it needs to be done and nothing gets done. It is better if everybody can work together :)

Stay around and keep typing.

Love, deb

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