HealthBoards (
-   Alzheimer's Disease & Dementia (
-   -   Best way to take away car? (

SOTM 04-03-2012 07:21 PM

Best way to take away car?
Quickly, this is my uncle and he was diagnosed with Alz a little over 2 months ago. He has been getting worse pretty quickly over the last couple years. I am working with his duaghters helping with finances and manage his rental properties. 3 doctors have said he cannot drive.

About 3 months ago he was in a very minor(thank God) accident, where he hit and run. The police caught up with him and seeing his state sent him to the hospital. They left his car there and his daughter and I picked it up the next day and are holding it at her house. Not ideal, but he is fiercely independent, resistant and loves driving. We took it as an opportunity. She has told him he cannot drive and he has nothing of it.

Now, he is still agitated with getting his car back. I had a half hour conversation with him on the phone about it. The facade we have of the state holding his car cause of the accident is wearing thin and getting annoying.

Is there a better way to bring closure of his car to him? This is totally new on all of us, so while it was not the ideal approach it has worked for 3 months. ANother thought was to pull the car into his yard after I permanently disable it....but I can imagine the same agitation with him always wanting his car fixed.

Any help is appreciated :)

Gabriel 04-03-2012 10:49 PM

Re: Best way to take away car?
You have done what you need to do and now you just need to stick with it. It is not easy to take away the driving privileges since it is synonymous with independence. Once the car is taken away... to another location... leave it there. What you don't need to do is spend any time explaining to him where the car is. He will not understand and it only upsets him. When he ask about the car just say it's sill impounded. Then offer him some ice cream, turn on his favorite TV show, have to go to the bathroom... anything to distract him. If he says he's angry about it assure him that you understand his anger and you will see if you can get in touch with the appropriate people after lunch. Validate, distract and delay but don't argue or explain. His time line is confused so he doesn't have a clue how long the car has been gone. All he knows is that it is not there in the moment. So just keep making those excuses, validating that it must be frustrating, give him a little hope by telling him you are trying to "work on it", and then distract him.

I did this with my Dad for... YEARS!!! The AC was being fixed for months! I did give him his key, since the van was 3 hours away, and many times he though since the keys were in his pocket then the van had to be close by. This went on and on even after we sold his van. He did get agitated from time to time about the van not being there. Sometimes he just needed to be agitated. But it was in the moment and if I could find something to distract him all was good. I never explained that he couldn't drive or that I was taking away his ability to drive. I just went with the moment and gave the best simple excuse I could for the van being unavailable. Yes, I validated his frustration and told him I was "working on it". Sometimes he was ok with it and sometimes he pitched a royal fit. But what I never did was allow him to have that Van back in the same city with him.

The first rule of Alzheimer's is never argue with them. Give them quick simple answers, validate their emotions, give them a little hope, and stay the course!

Just know that eventually this desire to drive does wane. This very situation was when I understood the statement that it has to get worse to get better. As Dad's disease progressed, he forgot that he had a van or his desire to drive. But even in the end, occasionally, he would ask about the van. I just smiled and went on to something else :)

Welcome to the board. It's not an easy journey but it is doable. Hope you continue to post. There are many of us here that are on the same path you are on. You are not alone :)

Love, deb

SOTM 04-03-2012 11:38 PM

Re: Best way to take away car?
The first rule of Alzheimer's is never argue with them. Give them quick simple answers, validate their emotions, give them a little hope, and stay the course[/QUOTE]

Thank you for the response, Deb :)

I quoted the above because it is so true, and I have been doing that lately. i am just glad to hear we are not the only ones that have done this car thing the way we have! I have actually told him that I went through a similar thing( white lie) with my car being inpounded and that it took over a year to get it back.....whenever I tell him this, it greatly relieves him.

I think it is almost easier for them to be "in the moment" than us. We are lucky enough to have some great people on board and behind us and him, so it is doable. He is not the only family member affected, we have an aunt heading down the same path. I am in the process of decalring bankruptcy for her since her finance got out of control. There seems to be a rather fast point- at least in these two- where they refuse all help at all costs to where they start almost willingly handing over the reigns of everything to you, which is a great relief.

Thanks again. Hearing that you did this same thing for years gives me the hope that it can be done with him. We will just keep up the act, since it is so worth it. His daughter just recently got POA, and I believe she is working on guardianship. She wants to sell the car, and I will now encourage her to do so. As I said, we have many people behind us willing to keep him company now that he is grounded and also keep the "mystery" of the car going.

You'll see me post here more often in this forum absolutely :). It is great knowing there are others going through the same experience.


ninamarc 04-04-2012 10:05 AM

Re: Best way to take away car?
You are not the only one. Many families have done this. No car and hide the car and so on.
We were a little different. My FIL was able to find out for himself that he needed to check if he could drive given moderate Alzheimer's. He was diagnosed in the same year 2006 when he happened to need to renew the license. Well, the test in the psychiatrist's office showed that he has Alzheimer's so he cannot renew the license. Somehow he chose not to renew the license (maybe he forgot.) He got lost driving in April that year (was able to drive home though.)
He denied that he has Alzheimer's but somehow he admitted that he had memory issue so he stopped driving.
However he forgot about all that in 2007 and asked again if he could drive. He forgot about DMV and thought any ID could replace driver's license. His car happened to be broken in 2007. The shop said it is not worth repairing. So we donated the car at night and he didn't notice when the man came to pick it up on the street.
Since he got no more driver's license, we just distract him saying he does not have to have it and the caregiver can drive him and so on. He even told his lady friend that he didn't have a car and said that she could pick him up and etc. (He wanted to marry her!! But he didn't because she knew he was too sick and would not let her manage the money.)

When we donated the car, he had no idea. It is how you should do it. Don't tell him anything about the car. Hide the car even if it is in the daughter's house. Hide it so he won't see it. In the mean time, just distract him and get a driver to drive him around if needed.

Good luck,

Gabriel 04-04-2012 10:22 AM

Re: Best way to take away car?
Jim, you are NOT alone in this crazy world of dementia. Sometimes it does appear that way when you are in the middle of a situation with a loved one but know there are many that are or have gone through the same thing. You just have to find us... and you did.

Yes, you are doing what is right and the little fibblets are necessary and needed. When open expanded honest only sends our loved ones into turmoil, we have to step into their reality and give them what they need to find comfort. Mom's thing was "going home". Not today Mom because it is raining but maybe Saturday! It's already dark, maybe tomorrow. Oh but the van is being repaired, when it gets back :) Yes, my Dad had Vascular Dementia and Mom was his care giver when Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. For 3.5 years we had them both. During that time my FIL suffered from stroke related dementia after breaking his neck and my MIL from an undermined type of dementia. Now I just have Mom left who is deep into her Alzheimer's.

Yep, staying in the moment is a lesson we could learn from our loved ones with dementia. We tend to look back and wish/regret/compare. We tend to look forward to what will never be. What we need to do is just stay in the moment with them, ease their fears in the moment, and find the moments we can enjoy. It gives new meaning to go with the flow of what you are given in the moment.

The early stages of this disease, for me, were the most difficult. The role reversal was not easy. Then having to take away responsibility and privileges is even more difficult.... especially when it is wrapped in the loved one's inability to understand that you are trying to help and protect them. There is so much to be done and no clear path to get where you want to be. Kudo's to you and his daughter for taking the hard steps to ensure his well being :) This is when the finances can go out of control for sure. I remember Mom (bookkeeper with an amazing financial awareness) don't things that made me go HUMM! Her financial decisions were.. disastrous at times. Not to mention she couldn't keep up with money, where it went, and how much she had. She was about to become a victim of a shady legal scam when I stepped in. To my shock and surprise she turned over the financial POA! It was a moment of clarity when I think she shocked herself... but that passed quickly! Working with her financial adviser I was able to stop the monies transfer and from that point we controlled her money flow.

The next step was moving Mom and Dad out of their home of 53 years. That was NOT easy since it was also my home for the same amount of time. We did try in home care for a year but Mom hated that lady who always spied on her. That and the loss of driving privileges is what landed Mom and Dad in Assisted Living. Not to mention when you have two with dementia in the same house... they feed off of the worst of each other because neither knows how to deal with the other :dizzy: The transition was not easy for either of them but I have no regrets.. except perhaps I should have done it earlier! Is your Uncle still living at home?

Again welcome and glad to see you posting :) Drag up a chair and stay a while!!

Love, deb

ninamarc 04-04-2012 03:34 PM

Re: Best way to take away car?
I think it also depends on the person. My FIL didn't want to drive more than half hour in 2004 and he never liked to drive. His late wife drove more. That is why he does not insist on the car or driving. Everyone is different.


Las Vegas Girl 04-04-2012 09:19 PM

Re: Best way to take away car?
We went through the car thing with my Dad too. I tried to distract him, but after awhile it was harder and harder to do. I finally got his doctor involved. She agreed to file paperwork with the state to revoke his license. The state sent him a letter telling him he had the right to appeal the decision. I intercepted the letter, made another letter up and just said that because of his Alzheimer's diagnosis his license was revoked. He was very angry with the doctor. We were very lucky because he was in early stages and he was able to reason (after multiple discussions). He loved his doctor. I told him by law she had to report he had Alzheimer's. I told him she would lose her license to practice medicine if she didn't report it. He finally said he didn't want that to happen to her. It was hard at first, but I finally got him into an Alzheimer's daycare and also clinical trials for new Alzheimer's drugs. We were very blessed because he lived with Alzheimer's for four years and never progressed past the mild/moderate stage. Last May he developed congestive heart failure and six weeks later he passed away.

All of you are in my prayers. I know what a difficult road you are traveling. Besides my father, my father-in-law also had Alzheimer's. His was severe and he died in 1997. I still miss both of them so much.

Gabriel 04-05-2012 07:20 AM

Re: Best way to take away car?
Good to hear from you Vegas. It is a difficult road. Especially when you are taking away their independence one piece at a time. Each loved one with the disease is different and you have to work with what they give you. According to my Dad he knew better than anybody and he was ok. The Van being repaired worked for him because he was always meticulous about maintenance. Prior to Mom's diagnosis someone (usually Mom) just drove for him without much fanfare. Dad needed his keys with him and a constant string of excuses why the van was not present but he was easy compared to Mom.

Mom was very different. She diagnosed herself with depression and when the doctor mentioned Alzheimer's she fired him and went to a doctor that didn't know her. She was fine and he was crazy. Even after her diagnosis, which she cooperated with to "prove me wrong", she was fine and we all were crazy! Even after a hit and run (nobody was injured) she was fine and we were crazy because it "never happened". Yet she could not explain the blue paint on the van! Take her license... not in this life time... we were all crazy and she was fine. How dare we do that to her! When the van was taken away it was a conspiracy against her. She was the one that called 911 and reported her van stolen! For her, the van was a way home. She also threatened to call Two Men and a Truck or a taxi. Medication was the only avenue to contentment for her.

So if something comes your way and you can use it effectively just stay the course. For many there is NO easy way to take away the independence of driving. If you can get the cooperation of the police or the doctor then go for it. The Alzheimer's Association does have contact numbers for diving evaluations that can be used. They will not only evaluate the physical driving ability but also the cognitive awareness. This can be used to get another professional opinion to used in taking away the privilege.

What we need to remember is, many times the individual is unable to understand and maintain that understanding related to why this is happening to them so it goes on and on and on. Be patient and stick to your story. Find a way not to argue with them, to validate their frustration, yet don't cave in to their demands. Use the opportunities in the moment to accomplish what has to be done :)

Love, deb

Las Vegas Girl 04-05-2012 11:47 AM

Re: Best way to take away car?
I totally agree that each patient is different. My father-in-law had terrible paranoia. We were all stealing from him. We were all telling lies. My mother-in-law was cheating on him with every man in town. He called all women sluts. This was not my father-in-law. This was the disease speaking. Sometimes it was hard to listen to him say these things. My husband has seven brothers and sisters and his mother was alive, as well as many adult nieces and nephews so we had plenty of people to help. It was most difficult on my mother-in-law, my one sister-in-law and my one brother-in-law and his wife because they lived in the same town and dealt with it on a day to day basis.

When my own father was diagnosed I thought we might have a similar situation. My father was totally different. He never really experienced the paranoia. He had anger in the beginning. Anger at me, anger at God, anger at the disease. I was really worried in the beginning because I am an only child and we have no children, so I knew all the care giving would be my husband and me alone. No two people alone could have ever handled my father-in-law.

Our problem was getting my father to move to Nevada from Pennsylvania to live with us. He had never lived anywhere other than PA (except for his time in the Army Air Corp during WWII and the Korean War). We brought him out for "vacation" twice, hoping to get him to stay, but after a few weeks he wanted to go home. Then in February 2009 he told us he had to come and live with us. We brought him out and after a few weeks he wanted to go home. We had a ton of fights. He told me I was holding him "captive." I reminded him he asked me to come here. I finally kept telling him he had only been visiting for two weeks and why didn't he stay just one more week. He said ok. The next week I would say the same thing. It worked. He never noticed the seasons changing.

I think the best thing I did was getting him into Adult Day Care. We called it "Senior Club." It helped him to retain his dignity. I had to force him to go in the beginning, but after awhile he loved it. After a few months of Day Care, he no longer asked to go home. He had found new friends and a new life.

He lived a full active life right up till the end. I wish we would have had more time, but I also am so thankful for the time we had. The time we had was quality time. As funny as this sounds, in some ways Alzheimer's was a blessing for us. Had he now been diagnosed with Alzheimer's he never would have lived with us. The daycare and the clinical drug trials gave him and us a good quality of life. From the day of his diagnosis I prayed every day that when the time came God would take him in another way other than from Alzheimer's when he wouldn't know me or remember anything. Although it was so hard last June, God heard my prayer. Dad knew me and everything right up to the last day. His last words to me were "I love you."

God bless and prayers for all of you and your families, especially during this holiday season.

ninamarc 04-05-2012 12:39 PM

Re: Best way to take away car?
Vegas girl,

I am glad you had quality time with your Dad. Like you, my husband is the single child although he has a half-brother in Europe. Basically it is only us and we have no kids. So the responsibility to care for my father-in-law is on my husband and me. I help my husband with the financial stuff and taxes and paperwork. The worst thing is we are not in the same country. We counted on the caregivers from the home care service and we also moved him to another state to be closer to us (2 hours drive now.) He was in IL and now he is in VT. We are in Canada right above VT and NY. It has been 8 years since 2004 when the whole thing started when my late MIL died.
Unfortunately or maybe fortunately, my FIL is still alive in the age of 91 and he is in severe stage this year. In a wheelchair and does not talk actively anymore. I am afraid that he cannot say "I love you" like early 2011 anymore.
It is a dilemma. I don't want to take away his life and I am not God so I don't want to pray like that. But I understand now his quality of life is poor. But he is happy the way it is. He likes his new nursing home for memory impaired. (He moved in the summer of 2010.)

Dementia and Alzheimer's is a horrible disease and it is a long goodbye. It is sad.

Take care,

Gabriel 04-05-2012 09:39 PM

Re: Best way to take away car?
Vegas, you said something that struck home with me. I too find the blessing in the dementia/Alzheimer's diagnosis. I was close to my parents but with their diagnosis, I had the opportunity to have a closer relationship in a closer vicinity than I ever expected. In so many ways it has brought us closer than we were and I have enjoyed some wonderful memories and moments with them both. If you can get past the regret of what is lost you can find a lot new to celebrate :)

I also agree that if you can give them back their dignity and make their life interesting, many times they deal much better and make life much better for everybody. It is important to engage them and give them the dignity they need. :) That doesn't mean giving in to what they think they want, but finding a way to give them what they need in such a way as to preserve their dignity. I am very much in favor of a good adult day care or facility that individualizes a resident's personal needs. Dad in particular was much happier in AL calling bingo and participating in other activities than he was at home in front of the TV :)

I would love to hear about the clinical trials. There is a huge push by the Alzheimer's Association for clinical trials. Mom is in late stages so not a good candidate but I would love to know more :)

Love, Deb

SOTM 04-07-2012 07:46 PM

Re: Best way to take away car?
Thanks everyone for your replies :). Good to hear others doing similar things, it just seems so odd and crazy how you have to approach this stuff. It is at the point where I think I can keep this facade going for a few more months. I always validate his conversations and frustrations about his car and banter back with how once the state gets a hold of your stuff, blah blah. He is also extremely paranoid, so I kind of work with his suspicions and say they could be true( they are harmless enough), so even that calms him by not arguing.

My family is really odd, and there are members of it that like to work against others. Its slowly getting under control, but my uncle is eating like crap from stuff like white cake being dropped off to him. It cannot help. So I will be approaching his daughters and a family friend about coming up with food plans. My mother also wants to get some type of schedule going where he will be visited by one of us basically once a day, rather than several visits on the same day this way he gets more company to distact him form the car.

My aunts bankruptcy actually went fine. I thought I was going to die of anxiety in the court! I went through this same thing with my uncle, where they are in this twilight area of being there enough to resist and function, but progressed enough to ruin real world things. My uncle had to go before judges for evicting tenants, and it just felt like a "scam" we were pulling by having him being the named one kicking the tenants out(it was a 100% legitimate eviction, these people were destroying his house and taking advantage of him). Luckily my aunts court went well. I will be locking her credit reports up so she cannot dig herself into more credit card debt. i am also taking steps to get things like food assistance and reducing some of her monthly costs like cable.

Thanks again for the replies, they are great for ideas and comfort :)

Gabriel 04-07-2012 09:36 PM

Re: Best way to take away car?
You can continue the car charade as long as it takes. I refered to Dad's vehicle as his flipping van! It made me crazy for years. I even sent him to heaven with his keys in his pocket! You just keep doing what you have to do in the moment to make life bearable while you do what he needs.

Nothing odd about your family. Just about everybody here has had family quarrels, divisions, dysfunction, and everybody on a different page. This disease is notorious for tearing families apart. With any other disease or situation there is hope of some kind. With any other disease there is a level of understanding of what the disease actually is. This disease is like no other and I am not sure anybody truly knows what to do and how to handle it. Some learn quickly and others lag behind. That puts everybody on a different page. It takes a lot of leadership and learning to get it all back together and sometimes that never happens. I have three sisters and it's definitely a dysfunctional bunch! Eventually somebody will grab the lead. They need to be diplomatic and start assigning duties. Set up that rotating schedule, explain the need for Mom to have a break each day, and give them a day. They can swap out with each other but somebody needs to be there every day :) Many times the rest of the family just needs to be told what Mom needs!!

Glad your Aunt's bankruptcy hearing went well. I loved your explanation of the twilight area. I so remember those days. Mom called to tell me she had made this wonderful investment. OK>>> As the details came out she had given permission for a B rated insurance guy that she meet in a restaurant to withdraw $250,000 from long term stocks and her IRA! Do you have a clue how much capitol gains and penalties that would have cost? She would never recoup those loses. I stopped the withdrawal from her IRA but they got their hands on the long term held stocks. It was within the 30 days in which you can change your mind so we got the money back. We still had to pay the capital gains on the sold stock :(. A week later she calls and tells me she has approve the same flipping transfer to the same flipping men. I was furious!! After our second conversation they never called Mom again! Not to mention I set it up so no money could be withdrawn without my permission. There enough to resist and function and really mess up things in the real world! Did I mention that dealing with Dad's will was a nightmare because Mom "fixed" perfectly good wills during that same period!! I get it.

Hang in there SOTM. It's a bumpy ride but one we have to succeed at :)

Love, deb

SOTM 04-28-2012 08:35 PM

Re: Best way to take away car?
Just an update......The car is still out of his hands :). We have an extremely helpful family friend( who I just met for the first time recently- instant friend type guy) who took him to where he thought his car was. It gave him "some" closure, and he seems far less adament about his car. Our next step is to just sell the thing. He seems to have forgotten about one of his rental proeprties, I drove him right by it and he did not even look at it. Good news on that one.

We are still battling uncooperative family members, just 2 of them. One of them drops off entire white cakes to him, using the excuse that he at least eats them. There were literally 3 entire cakes dropped off to him in one week, I swear she is intent on poisoning him to death and it drives me insane. I threw the 1st away right away since I was there, the other 2 were greatly eaten before others had a chance to pitch it. Sigh....

The headway we are making as we start to come together as a fully functioning team is nothing short of amazing and positive though. Overall things are 1,000% better than they were a year ago. Hopefully he levels off in his disease and is able to enjoy a few more years of life, since he is overall happy.

Gabriel 04-29-2012 07:21 AM

Re: Best way to take away car?
I am glad that everything (except the cake fairy) is so much better. Yes, our loved ones do forget more and more including those things that preoccupied them before. If he is happy most of the time then life is good :) If most of the family is on the same page, that is even better. If the worst problem is too many cakes... life is pretty good. Unless he is diabetic... just dump them when you get there. Just know that Alzheimer's is not a static disease but is forever marching forward... slowly but constantly. So your problems will be ever evolving. That is why I said having the family on the same page even better :) Once the foundation is in place you can go through each decision together. I do wish for you a respite and the time to enjoy your Dad. Hang in there Jim, because you have come a LONG way :)

Love, deb

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 06:13 AM.