The Beginning Stages

7 Tips on How to Take Car Keys Away From Your Loved One with Dementia

June 26, 2017

The biggest and hardest question is ....

when should you take away car keys from your parents?

Your parents are the ones that most likely helped you gain driving privileges in your teen years. It all seems so wrong when later in life you are the one to have to decide if your parents should continue to drive or not.

Answer this.

Would you let your young child drive?

Most likely your answer is no. In my opinion, a parent with dementia is functioning on a child's level. They don't have common sense and sometimes their brains just don't work fast enough to be able to drive safely.

Our Story

October 2013

We had a sign a few months before taking my mom's car keys away. My mom was in a car accident. She changed lanes without looking and hit into the side of a US postal worker's truck. The accident mostly damaged my mom's car. My mom's car had to be towed because one of the tires was messed up. My mom got her tire fixed by a tire shop, paid a ticket, and had to pay money to the US postal. She continued to drive after this because we didn't realize she had dementia at the time. My mom had never been in a car accident that was her fault until this time.

December 2013 - Beginning of 2014

When we were trying to figure out what was going on with my mom at the first, a neurologist asked me if I wanted her to contact the DMV and relinquish my mom's driving privileges. I agreed and told her "yes, please". This was the first step for us to take away my mom's keys. We still didn't know her diagnosis at the time. My mom still would drive after her driver's license was canceled. My mom was in denial. She thought she was just fine. I will be forever grateful to this neurologist who stepped up and helped us out. I don't know what we would have done without her help.

We had to eventually take the car keys away from my mom. My mom was smart and had made several copies of her car keys prior to this. We had to continually take her keys away because she kept coming up with another set of keys. We even disconnected her car battery so her car wouldn't start. We even had to bring her car to my house, so there wasn't a car for her to drive anymore.

Beginning - Mid 2014

My older brother took my mom to the DMV to try to take a driving test so she could try to be able to drive again. My mom had such a hard time trying to figure out the touch screen for the test. My mom tried two times that day. She failed both tries. My mom went home with a driving booklet and knew she could try to take the test again another day. She never asked to take the test again or to drive again. She never opened up that driving booklet to look at it. The test was to hard for her and she knew it. My mom eventually got use to not driving. It took quite some time and she even seemed sad and mad about not being able to drive again at first.

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Tips on how to take car keys away

1. Get guidance from a doctor. Specifically ask the doctor for advice on driving with dementia. Ask the doctor if they feel like it's safe for your loved one to continue to drive. You may have to ask the doctor when your loved one isn't present. Sometimes we would have to have two people go to the doctor appointments so one could talk to the doctor privately and the other one was waiting with my mom in the waiting room or one would stay in the room with my mom while the other was outside the door speaking to the nurse or doctor by the nurse station.

2. Ask the doctor to cancel your loved one's driver license by having them send in a cancellation to the DMV.

3. Tell your loved one that they can continue to drive if they can pass a driver's license written and driving test.

4. Take the car keys away.

5. Disconnect the car's battery.

6. If all else fails, take the car away to someone else's home, and have it stored away from your loved one. This way they won't be tempted to drive.

7. Never leave your car keys or any type of car keys in your loved one's presence. Don't tempt your loved one.

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I know all of this is easier said than done. Trust me, this is one of the hardest trials we went through with my mom. It was a stressful time. Just realize that this is a stressful time, but you will get through it.

If I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, I would have taken my mom's keys away sooner. I would have stepped up and taken control from her. Unfortunately, when you are going through something like this, it's so hard, & I didn't know what to do at the time.

What are your stories with trying to take car keys away from someone with Dementia, Alzheimer's or older family members? Do you have any tips for others? Leave your tips in the comments below.

Tiger Goes To A New Home

June 17, 2017

My mom's beloved cat has gone to a new home. He is now loved every day by so many. More than he could have ever imagined. He has gone from a semi quiet home to a busy full house. He now gets to play with dogs, tortoises, kids, and more kids. He really is a lucky cat.

Tiger has moved a county away and moved in with people he already knew and has seen plenty of times in his lifetime. Macy (my mom's granddaughter) wanted a cat really bad. Her parents were super nice to let Tiger join their family.

It really is amazing that my mom went into assisted living without Tiger and she didn't mind it. I think, in all honesty, that taking care of Tiger by herself, was becoming hard for her.

My mom got Tiger to weigh 18 pounds. I think he weighed even more, but lost some weight after she moved into assisted living. She would feed him pizza, root beer, chocolate milk, many cat treats, and more. He is now on a weight loss journey. It was so hard to tell a dementia person not to feed him those things. It would go in one ear and out the other.

I have written a post about Tiger before. You should go read more about Tiger.

💙 Many thanks go to the new owners of Tiger! 💙

All photo credits in this post go to Jamie. (The new owner of Tiger :)  )

The Beginning Stages

Dracula Is An Animal in My Mom's Dementia World

June 14, 2017

The doctor asked my mom to name all the animals she could think of within a certain amount of time.

She was naming them off.




I thought to myself "she's doing great!"

And then we hear her say .....


Dracula? I look to my brother with a bewildered and surprised look. I gave the look to my brother as if it was a "did you just hear, what I think I heard?" look. My brother gives me the same look back. We look at the doctor to see his reaction. The doctor had a straight face, as if, Dracula was a normal answer.

We never did speak to the doctor about the Dracula answer. I'm guessing the doctor hears answers similar to that all the time.

This testing they were giving my mom was the VERY START of the frontal temporal dementia world for us. My mom was being tested by the doctor to figure out what was going on with my mom. She had been anything, but normal, in the prior months before.

This neurological testing was just one piece of the puzzle.

The other pieces to the puzzle were a MRI scan, PET scan, psychological evaluation, & blood test (to rule everything else out).

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Tips & Tricks

Sunday Fun Day!

June 12, 2017

Cindy and her sister on a Sunday fun day! Photo credit goes to my mom's sister!

Sunday is my mom's fun day! She is always looking forward to Sundays. My mom usually has a visitor every Sunday. It changes off who will be there and she's always excited to see who will show up next on each Sunday.

My mom has 3 children. We have a planned schedule for the month on Sundays of who will visit my mom.

We arranged a schedule so we can all remember who will be visiting my mom each Sunday.

This is how our month schedule looks like:

  • Week 1 - Me
  • Week 2 - Brother 1
  • Week 3 - Me
  • Week 4 - Brother 2
  • Week 5 - Arrange or trade off when there is a week 5 in the month.

My mom loves any and every visitor! She is always looking forward to someone visiting her!

Try to get everyone involved to lessen the stress. I know sometimes that is easier said then done.

Assisted Living and Memory Care For My Mom with Frontotemporal Dementia

June 03, 2017

My mom now resides in an assisted living and memory care place called BeeHive Homes. She moved there February 20, 2017. We have been blessed and the transition went perfectly. Sooo much better than I could have ever imagined. I know this isn't the case for everyone.

When is the right time to have a Frontal Temporal Dementia loved one move to assisted living, you might ask?

I don't know if there is really a right time. You just have to know that you did all that you could do and it's the right decision for you and your loved one. Of course, you might have guilt for putting them in assisted living. I know that I had a lot of guilt and was worried about the outcome. I cried, felt guilty, and I couldn't even handle the process of putting her in assisted living. I had to put the transition process into my husband and brother's hands and hope for the best.

These are the reasons assisted living was the right decision for us. . . .

1. I had a stroke in July 2016 and I couldn't keep up with the needs of my mom. It was too much for me & my stroke brain. My husband was overwhelmed with taking care of me and my mom, also. It was to much for both of us.

2. My husband and I needed to start taking care of ourselves first. You are no help to someone else, if you don't take care of yourself first. Eventually, you will become run down, if you continue to put yourself last. That is what happened in our case. We found out this a little to late.

3. We hired a caregiver to come to my mom's house from 4-8PM every day to help feed my mom and to entertain her. This helped out, but it became to be that this wasn't enough care my mom was in need of.

4. My mom was unable to use the toilet properly and her basement flooded. She did not understand that you can only use a certain amount of toilet paper. She would fill the toilet up with toilet paper and not realize that the toilet would not flush with all the toilet paper she was using. She started using her hand as a plunger. Imagine sticking your own hand in the toilet with poop, pee, and toilet paper. This is not a normal way of plunging a toilet.

5. My mom came and lived with us for a month before going to assisted living. She started to tell me that she did not feel safe at home. She never asked if she could go back home. This was a big sign to me that she shouldn't be home alone anymore. I felt like this was the sign.

The end result . . .

My mom has not asked to go back home since being at assisted living. She has always told me that the assisted living place is a good and fun place to be. She does call or text me that she wants to be visited or to be picked up to go for a drive. She always goes back to assisted living fine and does not resist being there. There has been quite a few conflicts with my mom at assisted living because of my mom's behavior. I'll leave that subject for another post one day.

Take one day at a time. That's all you can do.

I've learned there is no manual in the frontal temporal dementia world, but I wish there was. It's kind of hard to have one because all cases are different.

We are blessed and thankful.

What is your story? Do you have any tips for others in this situation?

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