Friday, February 17, 2017

How to know when a person with Alzheimer's should no longer drive?

My family and most of my friends instinctively sense when an elderly person becomes a danger to himself and others on the road. Little dents and scrapes accumulate on Mom or Dad's car. When we ride with them, we find ourselves cringing a lot or being relied on to copilot before every turn. "Any cars coming from the right?" Maybe we hear them tell of frequent close calls. Reaction times naturally slow as we age, but additional signs might be present if your parent has dementia. I thought that instead of living with vague worries, it might be helpful to have some concrete signs to look for.
This is verbatim from the Alzheimer's Association's Alzheimer's Update Questions for the 24/7 Helpline column:

Determining when someone can no longer safely drive requires careful observation by family and caregivers. The following list provides warning signs that it's time to stop driving:
Forgetting how to locate familiar places
Failing to observe traffic signs
Making slow or poor decisions in traffic
Confusing the brake and gas pedal
Returning from a routine drive later than usual
Forgetting the destination you are driving to during the trip

For more information on this issue, visit our Dementia & Driving Resource Center at alz.org/driving.

The next obvious question is how to take away the keys. "Let the doctor tell them" is my easy-way-out answer. At the link above, you braver caregivers will find tips under "Having the conversation." Have you had success with other methods of breaking the news? 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Free Respite Opportunities for Caregivers

You love your mom or dad with Alzheimer's. You see their needs. You embrace opportunities to visit, to cook for, to care for them. After a time, however, you may notice the spring in your step toward their door has morphed into foot dragging. Heaviness of heart and physical fatigue are normal for a caregiver. Perhaps you have looked into respite and/or counseling support, but found it outside your budget. Take heart!

If you feel tired from any aspect of parental caregiving, please read this article at Caregiver.com entitled "Free Respite Opportunities for Caregivers." Allan S. Vann gives live links to seven FREE respite opportunities that I had no clue about during all the years I might have benefited from them.

The one form of support I did find invaluable was the Alzheimer's support group that met at my local library. It was facilitated by a volunteer trained by the Alzheimer's Association. Check your local newspapers for such support groups at your library, hospital, or nursing home. And a few times I called the Alzheimer's Association 24-hour helpline, too. They were great. Don't hesitate to call them at 1-800-272-3900. Or check out their Community Resource Finder at http://www.communityresourcefinder.org/.