Making the transition to Assisted Living when your parents refuse – Part II

lessonslearnedAfter my parent’s driving licenses were revoked by a doctor, they continued to drive. Their brains filled in the details with their own manufactured information. At first, my mom admitted they were revoked and showed me the letters, and then later, they would pull out their licenses as proof that they were still valid drivers.  The letter from the state requires that you turn in your license, my parent’s refused.

We had to take their car keys. My brothers came to town and my parent’s initially handed over the car keys. At first they just took the keys and moved the car’s out of my parent’s garage. One was sitting a block away from their home. After my brothers left town, my parent’s found it and hired someone to rekey the car. I’m sure they would have driven more if the electrical system wasn’t toasted in the process.

Eventually, we hid both cars by putting them in storage.

I’m one of their four children, with two older brothers and a sister. We worked well together and thankfully, my brothers came to town to manage the dirty work. When they left, I could still be the go-to for my parents and could tell them I had no idea where the car’s were. My brothers had taken care of the details.

My brothers accomplished this by following what they believed to be the moral choice. What if my parent’s had another accident (they never shared the first one with us)? In the event that my parent’s would reported the “theft” – one brother visited the local police department (we live in a major metropolitan area) to share that our parent’s continued to drive without a license, their diagnosis (and inability to remember) and tell them we had stored their cars.

At first I struggled with having to lie to my parents, however, as things got more bizarre, I came to realize that giving them a modified version of information helped manage us through several transitions and was the best course of action.

After about two weeks, my parents had created their own version of the car’s disappearance and I just feigned ignorance and helped out where I could by giving them rides to the grocery store.

The first two of the three steps that helped us support our parent’s transition were:

  1. Address driving if you think it’s an unsafe activity for your parents and their doctor agrees.
  2. If they continue to drive disable or hide the cars.

If you have been reading my blog, you know this was not an easy process, however, I hope that my experience can help others more easily make this transition with their parents. Learned.

Making the transition to Assisted Living when your parents refuse – Part I

no drivingI have been writing about my family’s struggle in helping my two parents with moderate dementia for more than a year. While my parents had an apartment in a retirement community, they kept their town house and divided their time between the two homes. They were unwilling or unable to make the move and as a result, they were always about two steps behind being in the place they should have been for their own happiness, health and safety.

While I know my parent’s relished the independence, they really struggled to keep up with two homes. They were starting to become targets of elder-care abuse, and we had several instances where we had to intervene on their behalf.

In looking back, there were three keys to our success in finally getting my parents into the level of care they needed. Today I will address the first item: Driving.

For more than two years, I would not allow my parents to drive my children. Their cars continued to get a little more battered and scratched. They kept telling us they would be moving full-time into the retirement community … but each new milestone came and went and they failed to move. We realized the movement between homes became my parents’ only real activity.

For the past two years, my siblings and I had face-to-face conversations with our parents requesting they consider moving full-time and give up the driving. They rebuffed our suggestions.

Finally, almost 9 months ago, they showed up in two different hospital emergency rooms in two days that was staffed by the same doctor. She was so alarmed at my parent’s confusion she championed the cause to have their licenses revoked and wrote to the DMV.  We had previously asked their doctor (who diagnosed the dementia) if this was possible, and he was not aware he had this capability.

If you are in this situation, call your state DMV office to request the forms and under what circumstances will a license be revoked. Our parent’s licenses were revoked in less than two weeks of the doctor’s form submission. Surprised.

Related Blog Posts:

Dementia and Driving Issues

Driving is a Right, and I think that is Wrong

When are you too old to drive?