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*sigh* life with an Alzeimers patient

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Sort of. My mother hasn't been diagnosed officially, but every single marker is there. My dad has been hesitant to go through the process of having her license taken away. She's gotten MUCH worse in the past two years, and everything, including her language, has gotten more erratic.

Now for some backstory. I grew up, and my parents still live there, in a house behind Cal State Hayward (now called CSU East Bay, stupid name change). Hayward Blvd connects to their street, and for a while it runs alongside Campus Road that loops around the campus. About 15 years ago, they installed a two arm gate along that stretch, for emergency vehicles. and ONLY emergency vehicles. When I was visiting last month, my dad informed me that mom has been cutting through that gate, damaging the gate (government property anyone?) and scratching up the car. The campus cops were told a while back that if they caught her doing it, to bust her.

That day has come. On her way back from grocery shopping, she did it again. Three cop cars followed her home... When they tried talking to her, she told them to "go to he**" (something my mother would NEVER have said when she was better) ...her license has been confiscated, and Dad won't bother getting it back... *sigh* life with Alzeimer's...

I know some here have dealt with this kind of thing, a declining parent as such. Well, we won't have to deal with the other feared outcome: her hitting someone. Now we just have to keep her car keys away from her. Dad is contemplating getting rid of that car (and just using mine, which i gave up last month), and we know she won't drive my old thing (an SUV).

Any ideas?
post #2 of 6
If that's what it takes to prevent her from driving, then that's probably the best decsion. I'm so sorry you're going through this. We did with my grandmother - but she didn't live near, and all it took was taking the car away and ensuring she understood the other modes of transportation (which, thankfully, were all easily accessible). This was all before she got to the point that she needed full time supervision.

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
In the East Bay, there's very little in other options. My dad knows he'll have to do the driving from here on out. They live up in the Hayward Hills, and there's now only one bus there, and the stops are too far away for her. There is a handicap/elderly transit, but there has to be doctors forms and such filed before they will do it. I wish they had a setup like up here in Portland. the mass transit system has a 'short bus' for handicapped and elderly. I think you still have to have medical forms and all, but my understanding is that it's free for them to use, and it's door to door service. My elderly neighbor in my last apartment complex used it daily.

I think I'm going to have to go back down there sooner rather than later. There aren't any doctors really close by that fit the extreme criteria of my mother. My dad really doesn't want to drive into certain towns there, because the streets are confusing. But there's a pair a female Geriatricians in Berkeley... but I don't think Dad will drive there. Also diagnostic teams across the bay, but he's not comfortable driving there either.

My dad doesn't want me moving back down to be closer. I'm working on graduate school, and he doesn't want me putting that on hold.
post #4 of 6
*hugs* so sorry that you are going though this. I've done a lot of research on this for a number of reasons... my husband is at an EXTREEMLY high risk for it as 3 of his 4 grandparents have had it and he has a sleep disorder that is often found in people who later develp it. My grandmother has also been battling this disease for many years and has just entered stage 5.

My suggestion, for futher actions beyond what you are already planning. is to have your mother diagnosed. Undiagosed this disease can quickly cause changes in both cognition and personality. However, the drug treatments on the market really help slow down this progression, in stage one, it can slow it so much that it seems to stop.

Now, this is just my opinion, however, I hope you have found it useful, I'm sure it is somehting you and your father have already discussed that everything goes well for you and your family
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
She hates doctors with a passion. Always has. Hence why she's been undiagnosed all these years. They used to have one doctor, but he got caught up in something and many of his patients, including my parents, left him. My dad, because he's a heart patient, found a new GP right away. My mother? Her attitude has been that if she feels sick, she'll have Dad take her to the ER, which is not proper care. She is bull-headed and hates male doctors, and *ahem* 'foreigners.' So, finding a female, Caucasian Geriatrician close by is an interesting challenge. hence the ones in Berkeley. I sent Dad their names and hopefully something can happen.

I think I've been the most proactive in trying to get her healthier. I think she also suffers from clinical depression, and honestly, if she went on antidepressants, I think her interest in other things (hobbies) would improve, and thus her mental state. But getting her to a doctor is a real chore. Dad is finally seeing what I was seeing years ago. He knows it's time to find her a doctor...

Thanks everyone...
post #6 of 6
Oh honey I feel for you!! Both of my father's parents have Alzheimer's and my mother's mother has pretty severe dementia. I just got home from a trip to see them a few weeks ago. Mom's mom is in a nursing home and has declined rapidly in the past year. I can't even show her pictures of my friend's babies anymore. She thought they were all the same kid and trying to tell her who each is she just gives you the oddest look. This coming from a very well read, intelligent woman. I will spare you the details; but for her it really became pronounced after having a stroke about six years ago.

About that same time is when both of my Dad's parent's really started with the Alzheimer's. My Grandmother has never driven, and for some reason has always chosen to ride in the back seat behind my Grandfather instead of up front. They had gone out for a drive and gotten lost. I forget where they ended up but some kind woman called my Aunt who had to come get them. At the time they thought it was related to a bit of heat stroke. It had happened once before but Grandpa was fine after being re-hydrated and what not. After that things really began to show. My Aunt looked into their day to day finances and my meticulous Grandfather had a checkbook that took weeks to sort out!

For a while after that my Dad and Aunt would let my Grandfather drive to the American Legion where they were very active and had lots of friends (though Grandma once told me that she and Grandpa would sneak out for ice cream sometimes ). It is literally down the same street they live on. But then Grandpa kept knocking the mirrors off the side of his car when backing out of their narrow garage. And then finally my Dad followed them on one of their trips down the street. They live in Upstate New York where you get tons of lake effect snow every winter. My Dad said my Grandfather bounced off the snowbanks on either side of the road multiple times. Thank God no one was injured! After that they decided no more driving for Grandpa. It was hard on him but I think a part of him knew he could not safely drive. He also had decreasing vision so it was a 'good' excuse to not let him drive.

My Grandmother's symptoms came on pretty suddenly; within a couple months after the incident with them getting lost in the country. A funny story; with my Grandmother also having Alzheimer's it was difficult for her to understand why Grandpa couldn't drive them around anymore. One year my other Grandmother was going through a rough time with her own illness so I took a trip up and stayed with them. I had flown in and my Grandpa still had his car, though he wasn't driving, so they told me to take his car. (My grandparent's live blocks apart, I could have walked) My grandfather followed me outside the first time I backed out of the garage. I was taking my time because I didn't want to hit him, when all of a sudden I hear him holler out "Your doin good!" I'll never forget that as long as I live!!

Now as I said my mother's mother is in a nursing home where she really is getting better care than she would have at home. (Helps that my Aunt manages the office there.) She demonstrated her illness differently than my other Grandmother. My Dad's parents both live at home but my Aunt (who is an RN) is there daily at least to take care of them. And also my cousin (also an RN) lives with them. My Dad and other cousin (a nurses aid) fill in for them as well. If they weren't all so qualified to help I don't know that they'd be in their own homes anymore. I feel terrible that I can't be of more help from where we live. At least to give some relief to my poor Aunt.

I worked for a neurologist for about a year and that job really gave me some good insight into my Grandparent's illnesses. I know one thing the doctor always stressed was the importance of beginning medication as soon as possible to slow the progression of the illness. And with that, to not stop medicating. He said that the medications do not reverse symptoms. And for people who stop taking them and get worse; you cannot get back what you had; just slow the progression. Part of what has made things difficult with treating my Grandmother was her flat out denial of her illness. She can get downright nasty and combative; so medicating her was very difficult. I think they eventually lied to her and said it was a vitamin. Even then she would throw some of her pills out insisting she'd already taken them.

I know I've gone on very long here so I'll stop now. But if you want to talk I'm here to listen!! Between my Grandparent's and working for the doctors I have; I've heard a lot and seen a lot. There are support groups that you can visit where you can get good ideas on how to help her get help; even though she's very early on now. My Aunt and Grandpa have attended one a couple times. It helped them just to reassure them others had been there. Good luck!!
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