This week has been a tragic week in my area for those with early stages of Alzheimer's. A lady who walked in the "Walk to End Alzheimer's" last weekend was taken to the neurologist Tuesday for a diagnosis. Her son brought her home and left for an hour to run an errand. When he returned she was gone. 8 hours later she was hit and killed on I-85 (3.5 miles from her home) while wondering down the south bound lane. They thought they had it covered and though they spent most of the time with her she was alone for short periods of time. As her son said.. it only takes a split second.
Thursday a gentlemen with Alzheimer's, driving the Blue Ridge Parkway alone, wrecked his car. He had no idea what to do so he huddled in the woods all night in jeans and a t-shirt in the chilly temps. This morning a passer by stopped to investigate the car in the woods and found him. He should survive. The family thought he was ok to drive.
We have to know that dementia is not just forgetting... it is brain damage the affect all cognition. We can not be too careful.
Right now I am reading "Turn of Mind" by Alice LaPlante. It is from the point of view of someone that has Alzheimer's and is an eye opener as to how their minds function with the disease.
It is up to us the care givers to understand and protect...
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Gabriel For This Useful Post: scorptired (09-23-2012), TC08 (09-23-2012)
Thank you Deb for reminding everyone how quickly things can happen. This breaks my heart, and I actually had tears in my eyes reading about these people. I am so worried about my FIL wandering, but am told that I worry too much. Living with him, makes for difficult nights worrying about what he may wake up and do, not realizing what hes doing. I hope that people think twice when they think that their loved ones are ok alone for an hour or ok to drive short distances. Accidents happen in SECONDS!
Christine, I think we want them to be ok when they are not! I worried as you do when Mom and Dad were home and even in AL. We lost Dad twice... once at home and once at AL. The latter was a close call but turned out ok. We keep wanting that OK ending but not all endings are that way. Their confused brains make the real world a very unsafe place. Mom actually got lost repeatedly and we didn't know it until much later. I insisted on a locked unit over AL because of this very reason. And it is why I am so insistent on not leaving loved ones with this disease on their own. You never know. The early stages when they are more mobile and do have clear moments is probably the worst because we do want them to be ok when they are not. We have to be ever vigilant
It is not only cars but bikes as well. My sis who has FLD has riden a bike all her life, not only for pleasure but back and forth to work for many years, 2 weeks ago my sis and BIL were out for their daily bike ride and coming down a long hil that she has traveled for over 30 years her bike got going to fast and in a moment of panic she could not work the breaks, she ran into the back of a van and suffered some stitches and black eyes, because bike is so enjoyable to them they now have a bike built for two . If you think there is a problem it is usually worse than you can imagine. Please take the nessecary steps to prevent accidents, yes you loved ones may be angry but would you prefer them to hurt themselves or kill
Hugs to all of you making these tuff choices..
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The Following User Says Thank You to jagsmu For This Useful Post: Gabriel (09-21-2012)
So sad that even Walk to End program didn't help either! Here in Canada, it is also common to hear about the news that some elderly people were lost and died on the road. I think the families didn't realize how bad it was. In fact, it was not obvious. One woman visited her friend but never got there and died on the way. The son thought she was fine until it was too late. How sad!
The only key unfortunately is the family. DMV is not going to do anything. A doctor cannot do anything before it is too late... Do anything you can to stop the car!
Thanks for the warning.
Thank you for this information, these stories were very sad but does show that dementia patients should not drive. My husband is not driving since our doctor told him it would be a good idea if he did not drive anymore. He does not like it but so far he has not insisted on driving. He tells me he misses driving, feels like half a person.
This story of the two people will be hard for me to forget and will help prevent me from handing over the keys when he seems to be having a good day. He still has his license and it does not expire until 2015, he reminded me of that a few days ago. Maybe at some point his doctor will see that the DMV suspends it.
Deenie, call the doctor and ask them to report the license suspension to the DMV. That way your husband will get a letter in the mail which will seal the deal. Sometimes doctors will not do this out of "courtesy" to the patient. Yet it is the best way to handle the situation.
You are doing good if you have him not driving already Kudos to you!
He was always a wonderful driver, never any problems always cautious. He always prefered to drive whenever we were going anywhere because he felt he was the better driver and I agreed.
For the last year (2011 to present), I became uncomfortable with his driving as I began noticing he would drift out of his lane, drive too slow, and become angry with all other drivers calling them names. It made me so nervous I did not want to go anywhere with him.
One day about 6 months ago, he was driving on I-75 and I noticed he passed our exit so I asked him where he was going. His reply was "home". I said but you passed our exit way back there so he said oh I suppose I had my mind on something else.
Since then, with me driving he has told me he doesn't know where things/places are located near our home which we often go to. He has also told me when he thinks of HOME he immediately thinks of his home when he was a child growing up in Virginia, we now live in Georgia.
All of this is so difficult for me to grasp, I have never known anyone with any type of dementia and when he does or says unusual things I don't immediately know how to respond. At first, when this first began, I would get angry with him and ask why are you acting this way? I had no idea what was wrong with him, just that he was agitated most of the time for no reason.
Your story Dee is exactly why we need more awareness of this disease. Dementia has been a hidden disease in so many ways. It would be helpful if we knew the keys to look for before we had to figure out what was going on. It would be helpful if the medical professionals were more informed. It would be helpful is there was more research to find a way to beat this disease. It would be helpful if there was more support for the care givers. The Alzheimer's Association is going what they can but we need to turn the world purple!
No, hubby does not need to be driving. It is not the physical driving that is the problem. They hold that in their long term memory since most of us have driven since we were teen agers. It is the cognitive awareness that gets dementia patients in trouble. As you mentioned, the inability to focus, not knowing where they are, losing their time frame, and especially the inability to react appropriately in the case of emergency. Yes, you have done a good thing that so many have trouble with. If you are fearful riding with them... they should NOT be driving.
The sad part is it is the family that stop the car and take away the keys. It is the family that call the DMV and doctors... So the family is vital to stop this driving from a sick demented person. It is good that your hubby is not driving. He may miss it but someone can drive him out for an outing. The issue is he will forget the exits or the road to the home or the office. My late FIL first got lost finding his GP's office but was able to drive home. So the caregiver didn't want him to drive. He didn't like driving so he stopped it as well after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
It is not about the physical aspects yet at this point. It is about getting lost.