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Mon, Jan 6 12:04pm · Early Onset Alzheimer's: Driving and staying home alone in Caregivers: Dementia
This is such a tricky subject because driving is so key to feeling independent. We just went through this same issue with my mother-in-law, who lives with us. She has a condition that causes dementia but also has days where she seems fine, so it was hard for her to understand why she can't drive anymore. She is a fiercely independent person and her doctor didn't want to take away her driving privileges despite multiple physical conditions that make her less capable to drive. The mental impairment was kind of the final straw. We relied on the advice of medical providers rather than telling her that we had decided she was not allowed to drive. She was still pretty angry with us because she would forget and we had to remind her. For several months she asked every medical person that she saw if she could start driving again. She seems to have accepted it now and is okay as long as we give her rides when she needs them.
For your husband, his reaction could vary a lot based on personality, temperament and where in the brain the impairment comes from. In my MIL's case, one of her key challenges is lack of impulse control, which made it harder. If your husband is more laid-back or perhaps realizes that he could be a danger to others, he may give it up more willingly.
Good luck to you. This is a challenging issue to navigate. In the end, we made safety our guiding principle and while she didn't like it, she did eventually get used to it.
Hi. I sent you a private message through the Mayo Connect platform since we're not supposed to give out personal contact information to protect against spammers / scammers. Hope that will work for you. To access it, click on the envelope icon at the top right of the page. Hope you are okay.
I am so sorry that you are going through this. My husband is a veteran but not disabled so I don't really know what you are going through. I do know about the challenges with the VA through his brother who is a disabled veteran. Maybe Wounded Warrior Project could help? We are here to help and support each other and we are very glad that you found us. Your situation sounds really difficult and complicated. Not to suggest that this is the solution for you, but I have found that seeing a counselor helps because it gives you someone outside the situation who can help you through it. Hugs to you and thank you for YOUR service. We know that it's not only the veteran who serves, the whole family does.
The challenge with dementia is that irrational reasoning is par for the course most of the time, and trying to make logic out of it can drive you crazy.
Here are a couple more ideas that might help.
– If she won't take the stool softener because it's a liquid, ask the doctor to prescribe one that's a pill.
– On the hair washing, you could try a coloring conditioner and tell her that it's something new that will help "refresh" her color and keep it nice and purple. I used the Keracolor brand color + conditioner which I bought on Ulta.com. Then it would be a positive thing but also get her to wash her hair when you want her to.
– @IndianaScott might have other suggestions on the bathing because I think I recall him posting on this topic in a separate thread.
As for threatening her with a nursing home, I know you don't like to do it but I think it's reasonable as long as it's done kindly. It's not really a threat; the truth is that if she doesn't eat and take her medications, she will eventually end up sick enough that you can't care for her and she will have to go into a nursing home. I would definitely try other enticements first if they work, but they don't always.
Hang in there and hope this improves for you soon. We are here for you.
I'm sorry to hear that you are going through this. We know what it's like as my husband's mother (who lives with us) has a similar condition. We have been told that this is quite common with these conditions. With dementia involved, the logic isn't necessary firing on all cylinders the way we would like. During her last big episode, my mother-in-law refused to eat for over two weeks, then started in rehab and stopped again for several days when she transitioned home.
My first thought is that getting her to eat anything is better than nothing, so if all she will eat is bread and chocolate, at least she is getting calories that way. For now, you may want to focus on just getting something into her to keep her going until you can work on nutrition. If she will do them, get the Ensure or similar nutrition drinks and tell her that they are malts or shakes if you need to. Would she eat if it was more of a social situation? Maybe the family members could take turns eating with her. (This did not work with my MIL but might be worth considering because maybe your mom is different. Some people simply hate to eat alone).
Also, I'm sure that there are doctors involved given the other issues you mention, but if not, it would be a good idea to ask them for help. You should ask if they have suggestions, or perhaps they can refer you to occupational therapy or a dietician that works with geriatrics to see if they have suggestions. (My MIL refused to eat for us but when she was in memory care rehab they were very successful in getting her to eat. We're still not sure what voodoo magic they used but we were grateful that it worked).
The final option is a bit heavy-handed but was suggested to me by an in-home nurse if we ran out of other options. They periodically have patients who refuse to eat, so they take them seriously and ask if they want to bring in hospice. Once the elder starts to see that this is getting serious and could mean planning for the end of life, they decide to start eating again. It's not something I would want to do (and thankfully we did not have to go there), but they have had to use this option a few times and it can work in the right situation.
Hugs to you and kudos to you and your family for helping make sure she has the option to eat healthy. Hope these suggestions are helpful and that you are able to get this resolved so your mom can be healthy and happy.
In rehab after his stroke, they gave my father-in-law an adult coloring book and some colored pencils. It is good for both cognitive and motor skills, so that might be an option if he would be interested. It is tough with some people to figure out what would interest them if they didn't really have interests of this kind before.