I dreaded the day would eventually come when I would have to get my Mother OFF the road….take her driver’s license, sell her car, cancel her car insurance and take away the last form of independence she had.
In my book, I describe in detail the events that finally led to Mom being literally forced off the road. Mom started getting lost coming to our home in Gloucester, then came the inevitable car accidents (that she never remembered). We lived in the same house for 15 years and in the last year, she couldn’t find it. Many a night I couldn’t sleep wondering if she was “running the roads” and possibly still years later, looking for my Dad and her husband driving around alone late at night. It was agony.
The day that the CU called me urgently at work, it finally hit home. Mom was literally standing in the middle of the CU parking lot. She was looking from side to side for her vehicle. The CU manager called me at work and she was describing the horrific and sad scene while I was ON the phone with her. She told me “your Mom is in our parking lot, she looks lost, she can’t find her car”. OM GOSH…..Thankfully one of the employees went out and helped her find her car.
**I had the choice of hiring a personal chauffeur for Mom, but I knew that would not go over well. By the time she argued and demanded her keys back – they would quit. Her car would be in her driveway and she would be unable to drive it, because the driver would have Mom’s keys. The car, MOM’S car, would stay at her home, but she would be unable to drive it. I scrapped that idea when visions of Mom getting extremely upset at the person I (if it had gone through) hired.
**Next, I thought about taking her car away while she was still in her home and had not yet begun living at the ALF. How, just how would she get around? I could also picture her walking down her neighborhood street until she eventually came to a busy highway about 1/2 mile away – or walking and getting absconded by some evil person. I couldn’t bear to think about something happening to her, so that idea was scrapped also.
**The third consideration, was one that merely ended up being a “fleeting” thought. I could drive her around, she would actually enjoy it – and I would be at peace with myself. BUT I worked a good 40 miles away at the north end of our county. I worked for a school system and it would have been physically impossible for me to drive Mom on errands throughout the day. The only way the situation would work, would be for me to quit my job and be Mom’s personal chauffeur. That was a great idea – however, I needed to work for the additional income that helped pay our mortgage every month. NO way could I quit my job to drive Mom around all day long. I wish I could have, but it was not possible nor feasible.
Good grief. Once Mom was placed into the assisted living facility, her car went with her. The Director of the ALF was mortified that Mom was still driving. A relative suggested I take a piece of paper, draw a big right arrow on it, and place it on the steering wheel. That way, when Mom left the ALF, she would see the arrow (only hopefully) and turn RIGHT as it was a one way street out of the facility. I look back now and cannot believe I agreed to such an idiotic suggestion.
Now that Mom was diagnosed with ALZHEIMER’s by medical professionals, I was informed by her car insurance agent (who was beyond panicked at the idea of Mom still driving) – that IF Mom got into an accident and injured or killed someone —- I WOULD BE HELD fully accountable. Since I now had DOCUMENTED proof of her Alzheimer’s and I CONTINUED to ALLOW her to drive – the responsibility for her actions would fall on me.
I can tell you – that is all I needed to know. It didn’t matter to anyone else – they wouldn’t be held responsible, so of course they were beyond pissed that I had Mom stripped of all driving privileges. Driving in our country, is a PRIVILEGE, not a RIGHT anyhow.
I literally had to call Mom’s elder attorney – place Mom on the phone to speak with her – for Mom’s elder attorney to tell Mom that she “couldn’t drive anymore”. Mom was furious. She didn’t understand consequences any more all she understood was she would not be driving her car, and I could relate to how she felt. How everyone else felt anymore, I didn’t care. If Mom had killed or maimed someone for life, and it would fall back on ME – not only could my husband and I lose everything we had – I could never deal with such a tragedy, knowing I should have gotten MOM OFF THE ROAD sooner than I did.
Shame on me. No excuses. Mom was now finally OFF the road. We took her car to our home and fixed it up and sold it. I handed over the cash to Mom, it was HER property and HER money.
Don’t forget readers and caregivers – the money from the sale of Mom’s car and the car itself, belong to your loved one. This does not mean a free car for the family. The car must be sold and directions followed as per your loved ones elder attorney directions. –Suzette