The Dementia Diary

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The Driving Licence Reversal……

on February 20, 2012

F i L’s car had become bumped and scraped and on this particular day the rear bumper had a large hole in it.

I asked him what had happened to the car.

“I hit the recycling box.”

This is a plastic box that measures around 60 x 40 x 40 cm and, as the name suggests, you put your recycling in it, put it out on your property threshold/drive on bin day and the bin men empty it. If he had bumped the box it could not have caused that damage.

“It got stuck under the car.”

On further probing it transpired that he had not seen the box, which is bright green, on the drive and had reversed into it.  He hadn’t realised he had hit anything so kept going, reversing until the box became wedged underneath the car.  This hadn’t registered with him either so he just kept going until the bumper finally gave.

I was horrified.  That have been an animal, or worse, a child.  He had no idea it had been there and had just kept going.

There comes a point in a dementia sufferer’s life where they become a child and, if they are fortunate enough to have their children around, the children become the parents.  This was that moment.  I told him that I thought it was dangerous for him to keep driving.  He could have killed someone.

I listed other reasons too.  This wasn’t a knee jerk reaction.  He couldn’t turn to look out of the side window without turning his body.  He was having problems with his knees so controlling the pedals was hard.  He would get lost on journeys and the road signs ‘came up too fast’.  He really needed to consider giving up driving.

Husband saw the car and, to a certain degree, he agreed with me.  He didn’t want to be responsible for curtailing his Dad’s independence.  No.1 and No.3 sons thought I was interfering.

Fate took a hand and F i L was hospitalised.  His boiler had failed and when I went to help him get a plumber sorted I was concerned with how confused he was.  I made him stay at our house for the night (“The cat will be fine for one flippin’ night!”) and he collapsed in our spare room.

We thought he had had a stroke.  This meant that he wouldn’t be able to drive until a doctor said he was fit to do so.  We thought that the decision had been taken out of our hands.  However he actually had pneumonia and once he had recovered he was free to carry on as before.  Aaaaaaargh!

I took him for his check up with his GP.  He told the doctor that he wasn’t feeling himself yet.  I told the doctor how he was unable to use the satellite TV and was getting his words mixed up.

“Satellite TV and modern technology is tricky for older people to get to grips with” explained the doctor.

“He’s had it for 23 years!”

The doctor did a quick memory test (a bit like the one here) and there was an obvious problem.

F i L spoke up.

SHE wants me to stop driving!”

to which the doctor replied

“She’s right.  You do need to stop driving. I’ll be writing to DVLA to confirm it.”

Parent became the child.



2 responses to “The Driving Licence Reversal……

  1. kimjoy24 says:

    Sounds familiar. My dad’s driving skills declined to the point where he ran off into a ditch a couple of times and banged up the car pretty bad to where it needed a lot of repairs. That was our way out of taking the car keys. Dad was too overwhelmed to deal with car repairs, and so it just sat there and my parents transitioned first to taxis and then to a local shuttle service that started for the elderly and disabled in their town. Finally my mom called a wrecker service to remove the car from the property.

  2. My husband doesn’t want to “fight that battle until we have to.” For me it’s just stressful and something else to worry about. I may have to just bite the bullet like you did and take control.

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