Taking The Keys Away - Finally


Taking The Keys Away - Finally

I've been away from this site for awhile, though I've recommended it to many, many people. Things were feeling pretty stable and all the routines were working. But of course, nothing stays the same forever.

I've noticed my mom's dementia getting worse lately. She's no longer able to enjoy reading because she can't keep the story in her head. She asks a question repeatedly, more than she used to. She's been losing a lot of biographical details, having confusion about how long she's lived with me, where she lived before, how long she's had the car, etc. My son has noticed it too. She still does her daily activities - more or less - and I don't feel like there is any danger in leaving her alone when I go to work. But I realized it was definitely time for driving to no longer be a possibility.

I've been her driver for the past 2+ years, maybe 3? But she has retained possession of the keys. I know of two times she took the car out in the past two years, aside from occasionally starting it up to make sure the battery doesn't die. But after a conversation with my son, I thought, I've been a coward about this too long, I need to keep the keys. So I left them in my purse a couple of weeks ago when I took her to a Bible study. She didn't miss them until Friday.

These are some of the things she's said to me since Friday:

  • You have no right.

  • I have never had an accident in my life. Can you say that?

  • I'm trapped here. That's what you've done to me.

  • I'm going to call a locksmith and have a new set made.


  • You've taken so much away from me.


Worse than that has been her withdrawal from me, refusing to show the affection and kindness I've been used to. I miss it so much. The other morning I had a terrible headache. When I told her, instead of her usual myriad of suggestions for remedies and expressions of sympathy, she said, "Well, that happens."

I've been sick over it, just in physical pain. I had to leave work today because I sat in my car after lunch and could not stop crying.

The good thing is that she sometimes forgets how angry she is and our relationship goes back to normal for awhile. If my son or I can get her engaged in conversation and distracted, she can forget. But when we leave her alone, the anger comes back. It is a major weakness in my personality that I find this so hard to cope with. When my son was little and had his tantrums, I could bear his anger so easily.

When she is yelling at me, I try to respond in a gentle voice and just repeat that it's because of her dementia, that I've seen it getting worse and I realize that driving would be risky for her and other people. But reasoning doesn't help. I don't know how to change her emotions.

Tomorrow she has an appointment with her doctor and I called the office today to explain the situation and ask for support. I hope that she can step in as the bad guy. But I'm dreading the trip since it will bring up the issue of the keys. . .