Sunday, June 08, 2008

We took Mom's car away this week

We took Mom's car away this week. One of the hardest decisions is when and how to get elderly parents off the road. You can leave it to law enforcement in this state. But if mom asks who turned her in they will tell her!! Might as well do it myself, most conclude.
My mother-in-law has had only one accident in my memory and no injuries. But the close calls were multiplying and - worse - she didn't realize when she had one. Her Cadillac de Ville was weekly gaining scratches from the posts in the parking garage where she lives. The accident was hitting a stopped taxi with its door open and gave the Cadillac a yellow scratch the entire length of the car. She didn't stop because her husband was in the hospital; she couldn't! HIt and run. Isn't that a crime? We tactically discussed if a neighbor would be willing to be the squealer. No, she moved over a year ago. They have no recent incidents to back up their claim. So we worked directly with her. We talked about what she knew - what had happened - and how we felt - afraid. I have been learning that the emotional approach works with the elderly. As their senses get weaker their world gets smaller, but the people in it get more important. And reasoning no longer connects in their brain. An emotional appeal - like "there are kids in your neighborhood; you would feel terrible if you hurt one" or "we are afraid" - becomes stronger. As we were getting close the mountain fell. She was diagnosed with one of the severe permanent cognitive damages. When the doctor told her and my wife the news my wife asked if she should stop driving. To her astonishment he took Mom's side. Then he turned quickly; he couldn't believe my wife was going to let her mother drive away 20 minutes later. He told her that she had to stop driving and when she started the new medication she must stop the same day. But she might conveniently forget and go driving away! We have to take the car away. We went through options of who would get the car and with it the duty to give her rides every week. The only brother in the area declined, so we were designated. And when we gave her a ride she will be confused and ask to go to our home to drop us off, so she could drive home. So we decided to replace the Cadillac immediately. We took it to the dealer she bought it from. Since we were driving another car we also wanted to trade - 2 for 1 - we told them in complete detail about the damage to the car. They already knew!! Every time she took it there for service they noted the damage; last time the week before! This is very, very hard for her. She loves to drive; she loves to go wherever she wants. Who doesn't? And with my broken pelvis keeping me out of the driver's seat for 2 months, she sincerely knew she was helping us by driving. She is one of the most positive people I ever have known: she never has a negative word to say except about her daughter's and granddaughters' weight!! Monday, June 2, 2008, the "new" 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix came to our house and Tuesday the Cadillac went to Doug's Northwest Cadillac Hummer. She was willing to help us by driving it there. So we have a car that better suits our needs: better, though not high, gas mileage; more maneuverable; sun roof, as important as wheels. And she will be just as comfortable in it as in her de Ville. We tell her every day, "Mom, there is nothing wrong with your car. This car suits our needs better." And we ask "do you need a ride today?" Please leave a comment with your experiences.

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