Help – My mother in law is behaving oddly part 2 – driving

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  • Help – My mother in law is behaving oddly part 2 – driving
  • Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Subscriber

    Had the same with my Grandfather (years ago) when he started to suffer with dementia.

    Initially, it was the same as your mother, eyesight issues. So much so that he actually got pulled over by the police for driving too slowly one night, the oncoming headlights combined with the rain were dazzling him completely.

    He had a few knocks and bumps, mostly in car parks and his insurance started to go up so in the end it was a combination of him not being able to afford the insurance and concerned neighbours (and my Mum) telling him he shouldn’t be driving. He resisted it strongly at first, it took a while to get the message across to him.

    PJM1974
    Member

    I posted about my mother in law a few months back here.

    In addition to the changes in her behaviour over time, we’ve become aware that her confidence and ability behind the wheel has become compromised. She apparently won’t now drive after dark, as she cannot judge distances or speed very well, despite having regular sight tests. She also refuses to drive anywhere she doesn’t know extremely well and refuses to detour onto any route if she’s even the slightest but unhappy about the conditions or road layout. Apparently her driving has lately become quite erratic, specifically with regard to her situational and spatial awareness.

    My partner and I strongly suspect that she’s suffering from the symptoms of vascular dementia, however in recent months she’s cut off all contact with us and we’re in no position to talk her out of driving.

    Basically, what’s the procedure here – do we contact the DVLA directly or should we trust that our GP has the matter in hand as we’ve already expressed our concerns to him? The DVLA states that it’s the responsibility of the driver to declare any medical conditions which may impair driving, however given my mother in law’s stubbornness, I can’t see her doing this voluntarily, even if she was aware that she has a condition.

    vickypea
    Member

    I had a read of your other post too. I’m not a doctor, but someone in my close family has Alzheimer’s and depression, so I know a little about the symptoms. Perhaps it’s a mixture of depresson, stress, and normal age-related cognitive decline?
    About 3 years ago, before my family member was diagnosed, The rest of the family and I were very worried about his driving, that he was a danger to himself and others. He refused to go to the doctors, and because of confidentiality, doctors are limited in what they can discuss about another patient. Anyway, I wrote to his GP, and was on the verge of speaking to the DVLA, when he went to his GP for an unrelated reason, and prompted by my letter, the steps towards diagnosis were put in place and he was told not to drive any more.

    retro83
    Member

    Had the same with my Grandad. Few minor bumps over a couple of years, clipping gate posts while parking etc. Then one day he went to fill up the car with petrol, and somehow ended up covered in the stuff from head to toe. Damn lucky he didn’t set himself ablaze. Such an awful illness. 🙁 Anyway from what I gather the GP had already told about the family’s concerns but the Police got involved in the petrol incident and that seemed to move things along rather more swiftly.

    She apparently won’t now drive after dark, as she cannot judge distances or speed very well, despite having regular sight tests.

    Eyesight tests won’t pick up on that as it’s neurological, your eyes don’t function like cameras.

    You need to send her to a Neuro asap, stuff like this isn’t always dementia although that sounds like a strong possibility. It could quite easily be something localised to part of the brain that is responsible for depth perception. Have you noticed memory loss or personality changes?

    PJM1974
    Member

    Have you noticed memory loss or personality changes?

    Yes to both, the latter very profound. She’s become aggressive, angry, tearful and over the past three years has become noticably withdrawn.

    As for memory issues, her short term memory seems okay but she has minor lapses.

    The biggest issue of all is that she’s cut off all contact with myself and my partner. She believes that we’ve been conspiring against her.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    The DVLA states that it’s the responsibility of the driver to declare any medical conditions which may impair driving, however given my mother in law’s stubbornness, I can’t see her doing this voluntarily, even if she was aware that she has a condition.

    that is simply there to tell you that you should.
    Try some reading around here
    https://www.gov.uk/browse/driving/disability-health-condition

    vickypea
    Member

    If someone has dementia, they may not even realise they have it, so how can they be held responsible for informing the DVLA?

    eskay
    Member

    My grandfather had vascular dementia and the symptoms were similar. Aggressive, forgetful, the driving thing was a nightmare (fuelled by my auntie trying to ‘keep his independance’ against my dad’s wishes).

    We struggled to find a home that would take him in the end as he was quite agressive and got pretty sexual as well. He nearly got thrown out of the home but mercifully passed away before they could throw him out. He was very heavily sedated towards the end. Such a sad end to an incredibly active and intelligent/skilfull man. He was an amazing craftsman and built his own yacht when he was younger.

    Something wrong with this country that we cannot end people’s lives when this happens to them.

    PJM1974, really sorry to hear that. I have had patients tell me that they struggle to drive as their eyesight is bad, or they are frightened to drive in what they consider to be heavy traffic, and on different occasions have called their GP to voice my concerns over their safety and that of other road users, only to be told there is nothin they can do unles the police get involved. When i have spoken to the police I have ben told they cannot do anything unless I was to report a dangerous witnessed incident, or a collision.

    The same thing happened to my grandfather and just took his keys one day and sold the car. hated doing it and had a bit of explaining to do but it worked out ok for us all for his remainig years with us.

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