Monday, August 1, 2016

Theft

Mr. Ford came in for memory loss.

He drove himself to the first appointment with a friend's car, because his was in the shop. After the appointment he didn't remember that he had someone elses car, and walked all over the parking lot looking for his. He finally gave up, assumed his car had been stolen, and came back to my building for help.

He went to the cardiologist down the hall and told the receptionist his story. She called the police to report a stolen car. After interviewing Mr. Ford, the officer had him call a friend to come get him, but the one he called couldn't do so because Mr. Ford had his car, and couldn't make Mr. Ford understand that.

So the friend came in a cab to get my patient (who'd by now wandered back to my office). As they walked out to the friend's car, Mr. Ford said, "You know, I saw your car out there when I was looking for mine. I didn't know you had a doctor's appointment today, too.”

On Wednesday he called Mary to cancel an appointment for that day (which he didn’t have). He said he couldn’t come in because someone had stolen his car while he was at the doctor's 2 days ago. He later called in to see if he could get the appointment back, because the car had been “found” at a local repair shop (whose owner couldn’t figure out why it hadn’t been picked up for 5 days).

For the next 2 weeks we continued to get calls from Mr. Ford, asking if he could make an appointment now that he had his car back. He was politely reassured each time that he’d already been here.

I called and discussed things with his adult son, who took the car away while I notified the state about revoking his license. This only led to further (continuing to date) calls that someone has stolen his car. The local police aren't happy about this, either, and are now telling him to call me when he calls about the stolen car.

I can't say I blame them, either.

26 comments:

Bobbi said...

Heartbreaking. Reminds me of my father some years ago. You have to keep laughing to survive dealing with dementia, especially when it's someone you love.

Officer Cynical said...

Where I worked, we could request that the state retest a driver who we didn't think was fit to be behind the wheel. Invariably, this would be some poor elderly person who had lost the skills it took to drive safely. Often, it was after they'd caused an accident. Once, I witnessed a woman pull out of a parking lot onto a busy commercial street, oblivious to the 5-ton ambulance - lights flashing and siren screaming - bearing down on her. It was the most remarkable feat of driving I ever saw when the ambulance driver was able to swerve across two lanes to avoid her, then clear a large intersection without hitting anything else. When I stopped the woman, she was unaware of what had happened. I reluctantly filed to have her retested, and I'm sure that was the end of her driving days. Very sad.

bobbie said...

Poor fella...

daria said...

Reminds me of my Nana when she was toward the end - she kept insisting that she could live at home alone again. All you can do is agree when you chat, but keep them safe.

gloriap said...

1. I feel so sad for him.

2. He should not be living alone or with someone unable to monitor his comings and goings. As we know, it will get worse.

Luckymom22 said...

So many (of us) have made, are making or will make this journey ourselves or with loved ones, which doesn't diminish the magnitude of the tragedy and heartbreak one bit, unfortunately.

Hildy said...

If you're gonna get dementia, have DAUGHTERS not sons! The son takes the car away. Great. But doesn't do anything to provide care or alternative transportation leaving his poor, confused father to think the car has been stolen. Men have more than a chromosome missing.

animal lover said...

I know it is a hard call but you did right by the family and society. Just last month in our area an 82 yr old woman disappeared. She left the bowling alley in the evening to go home. She suffered from dementia. She never made it home. Her car was located up on the mountain stuck on a 4 wheel drive road in a very dense forested area. The drivers seat was up close in the position she would have used to drive. They found a phone book under a wheel that she used to try to get herself unstuck. When the car was found she was not around. It had rained several days so all of her footprints were washed away. Search and rescue searched for 10 days for her. She has not been recovered. All efforts have been called off. I feel for her and her family.

Jono said...

Very sad. I hope someone stops me if/when I get like that.

Zed said...

That's so sad. This may have been a nuisance but it was a good opportunity to stop something worse from happening later on. It was the right choice to revoke his license. The Medic Mind

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for the fellow. It must be awful to he mentally incapacitated and always an inner urge to do something without a reason based in fact of reality.

(I guess I could politicize the opinion by bringing up politics. Isn't everyone, these days? I'll be so glad when that is over for a while.)

I was reading a book (had to return it to the library before I finished) about dietary consumption of foods that don't cause additional or further loss of memory of people as they age.

It advocated a vegetarian diet with supplemental cyanocobalamin and pyridoxine and other 'B' vitamins too. I remember its recommendation was elimination of dairy and animal fats, even fish because of toxins and unnecessary additional minerals and heavy metals. I finished writing out the August calendar with meal planning to include some form of beans, peas, or 'legume' every day, and of course a main entree. Where I would have planned a meat or fish, I chose some 'grand' vegetable course.

The author promoted four food groups. I remember the legumes, fruits, vegetables, and something else. For the life of me, I cannot recall that fourth group. Oh well, lots of beans, fruits and green veggies in August. We'll see how it goes.

Cape Cod Step-Mom said...

Well maybe your son

clairesmum said...

Getting him off the road was the right thing to do. Perhaps the local gendarmes ought to have a chat with eh director of the local senior center...or the elder abuse and prevention hot line - it sounds like enough to report that he is at high risk for injury if his family is not providing enough oversight for him.

If he is alone enough to keep making these calls, it suggests he may need some oversight in an adult day program..not an automatic trip to the nursing home, but a dementia safe setting when family at work...

sometimes a family does need a whack upside the head (metaphorically, of course) to help keep their family member safe...and then some oversight to be sure they take action not just talk the talk.

shannancy said...

Good lord, Hildy.

Anonymous said...

Hildy, what makes you think the son didn't make provisions? The guy couldn't understand when his friend explained that he lent his car to the man. I think it's far more likely that he doesn't understand that his car has been taken away permanently and that's why he's calling. He also doesn't understand the explanations by the cops or by Dr. Grumpy's staff.

Hildy said...

Sorry, my comment came across as unduly harsh because the way elderly dementia people are treated is often a sin and certainly heartbreaking. I just see too much ignorance from family members. But sons are just worse than daughters. Something like three-quarters of all caregivers are female according to the Alz assoc statistics, which I believe. The sons pay for stuff, but they do not give up their lives to live with and monitor a parent. Daughters regularly do that. (I did it.) Which is why I know that the son took the car away but the father is still on his own all day. Because if someone were there with him, he'd ask that person where his car was, not call the police. Not call a neighbor to borrow a car. His caregiver would be the one getting the unending questions. Trust me on this. If I may slightly paraphrase JK Simmons, "I know a thing or two because I've seen a thing or two."

shannancy said...

Your experiences are perfectly valid, but you don't know this family's situation, nor do I see any sources for your claims.

You do a disservice to sons AND daughters when you generalize like this.

Bobbi said...

Hildy, I'm sorry you had such a bad experience with your own family. I understand how that could leave you angry and even bitter. But that's no excuse for lashing out and generalizing about everyone else.

BTW, not everyone has the option of giving up their lives, as you put it, to take care of their parents. So maybe don't be so judgmental of those who don't.

Liz said...

That's a huge ASSumption. It's quite likely the son has made such arrangements but Dad can't remember that.

gloriap said...

If the family had made arrangements to account for Dad's memory deficiencies, he wouldn't be driving himself to the doctor in a borrowed car without a memory of how he got there. I like the idea of a Day Care, or a visiting caregiver.

rjs said...

My dad was at the point he shouldn't drive he wouldn't give up. Worried he would do something rash, we took his true car key and replaced it on his key ring with another. The car was still in the garage, but he couldn't start it. That gave us some time to work with him to convince him a cab or family was the better way to go.

Anonymous said...

Hildy, in the early stages of my grandma's alzheimer's she called the cops on my grandpa several times because she just couldn't remember who he was. he was there with her all day but he had to take care of himself, too, by doing things like going to the bathroom or taking a shower. that's when she called the cops. she wasn't not taken care of and still had her lucid hours, and sometimes even days, but as you probably know, they can change in an instance. it's horrible and unfair to say someone isn't taking care of their loved one because things like that happen.

Packer said...

Hildy, A broad brush is good for a fence , but not much else.

http://springtimedog.blogspot.com/2013/12/more-what-matters.html

Anonymous said...

We are dealing with this with my father. He loses his way, forgets where he is and needs directions to get around. Just this week, he called from one city, thinking he was in another town, asking for help to get to a third. He'd been stopped by police the day before and they let him go.

One of his healthcare providers submitted to the state for a medical review. This was the second one. He found a new primary doc to fill out the paperwork, with no history, and the state gave him his license back. The same thing happened a couple of years ago when he wasn't as bad as he is now.

It's not always the family. We're doing what we can. Until he causes another wreck that is bad enough, the state is just going to let him keep driving. He knows how to work the system by finding new doctors and fudging his history. Several doctors refused to help him. Too many are willing to do his bidding.

Candi Gomez said...

The disparity of male/female caretakers probably has less to do with who cares more and more to do with the cultural expectations our society is still saddled with: Men as breadwinners, women as caretakers. Even though society benefits if all do their best to contribute in the ways they are capable of in their talent and skill.

My grandmother is in assisted living. She originally moved there on her own, since as the years passed, the house was far too much to keep up on her own after my grandfather died. But as her dementia appeared and developed, her decision made it far easier for the one daughter living in the area to make arrangements to keep her safe.

The thing is, only one daughter left in the area, out of five kids, was chance.

All three sons moved out of the area long before my grandfather died, long before the dementia appeared, and chose to settle out of state over the years. (My father is retired military, and fell in love with our area when he was stationed here.) The other sister had severe problems with alcohol, and died shortly after my grandfather did. Again, before the dementia developed.

Anyone who has assisted elderly relatives know that long-distance care is difficult and almost unsustainable. So it falls to the one on the ground to do the job. Male or female.

Grandpa never got the chance to develop dementia. He started smoking at sixteen, and only stopped (Grandma made him) when he went on oxygen a couple years before he died. It was three kinds of cancer that took him.

Lokiicat said...

This story really resonates for me. My late father-in-law suffered with Alzheimer's through his last 10 years or more. When he could not drive anymore, his wife gave my husband and I their car (a deer had run in front of ours). When he wasn't phoning my husband to ask when we were returning his car, he was writing reminder notes to himself about it. How sad...

 
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