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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Is it time to take the car keys?

My client started off with a question, should I take away the keys?  It could be obvious to other people that this  person should not be driving but as children, we want to give our parents as much independence as possible. So how do we make this decision?   Mom called me one evening which sort of surprised me because she was forgetting things, like telephone numbers and I ususally called her. When I asked her how her day had gone she said it was fine after that nice young policeman helped her get back home.  Of course this raises red flags and carefully I asked her what had happened to need the services of a policeman. Appraently she was taking the dog for a ride to see the sheep and goats (they live in the country) and when she arrived at an intersection she couldn't remember which road she was supposed to take, so she turned off her car engine and sat there. She said it wasn't long before a policeman pulled up behind her and asked her what was wrong and she told explained the problem. She lives in a small town and he knew who she was so he asked her to follow him and he got her to right house. Living some miles away makes things difficulet but I knew the neighbors and called them to probe into this issue. With one exception, a lady who wanted her to continue to drive so she could take this woman to Bingo on Friday nights, the consensus was that she should not be on the road.  I don't know what to do she said. How do I take away my mother's only access to the stores, the bank, the hair salon. She doesn't need a nursing home and if I make her go to an assisted living center she'll hate me! my client wailed, what should I do? 

Taking the car keys is a difficult decision. We discussed this several times before the client was able to take action but she felt guilty and remorseful and her mother was angry for several months. Are the streets safer without mom on the road?  Of course. Is mom safer by not driving? Of course she is.  She hasn't had head on collisions, hit a pedestrian or an animal, forgotten where she parked or left the dog in a hot car. The client arranged for a van to pick her up three days a week to take her shopping or the salon. Every other Saturday a neighbor takes her out to lunch and shopping and other friends show up frequently.  It wasn't easy, but it worked. The client was concerned that this memory loss could be related to dementia which would require more action. She has a network in place to help mom and to call her to keep her informed.





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