For those who care for someone with Parkinson's disease
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By 3horses On 2011.01.25 15:11
I found this forum yesterday and after reading at least a weeks worth of posts I felt for the first time that I am not alone and the feelings that I have are normal. My husband of 26 years is in his 5th year with PD. He was a brilliant professor with a PHD in Physics and now can't balance his checkbook. He is still ambulatory and still drives. I can't stop him and when I try he gets very angry which makes it worse. How do you get your loved one to park the truck?


By Emma On 2011.01.25 17:50
Welcome to the forum 3horses, we're glad you found us. You will find a great bunch of people here who will quickly become your friends, your "family".

My husband has had PD for about 12 years. He has an MBA (economics) and can't do simple arthmetic anymore so I know what you're saying.

Getting someone to quit driving is very very difficult. We went around and around about it for a long time. Finally our neurologist convinced my husband to voluntarily take a driving test. The criteria for passing the test was that you have less than 25 check marks during your test drive. My husband had 24, which meant he passed. So much for that. Shortly thereafter he suddenly agreed to quit driving. I suspect that he had a close call or actually hit something and it scared him. Since then he has from time to time asked me if he can drive or accused me of taking the privilege away from him. I always respond that I have not taken anything away, the Parkinson's has. Someone on this board suggested replacing his car key with a blank, which I did. We have a Jeep so I just bought the dummy and didn't have it cut. Now I don't have to worry that he would try to drive in the middle of the night or something. At any rate, I know what you're going through, I know how hard and tension provoking it is and I don't have an answer, just empathy.

By karolinakitty On 2011.01.25 21:59
Welcome 3horses, My guy is only dx 3 years so i'm fairly new too.He was/is a member of mensa, and has problems with words, can't balance a checkbook, and when given an intelligence test a year ago scored just a little post high school...(so he's now even with
I am blessed....when we got into this we had some very heart to heart talks about anything and everything that could and would come up as far as we knew....He still drives some, but will very willingly hand me the keys if he doesn't feel right. Which to be honest is about 95% of the time......He used to be a truck driver and drove heavy haulers, he knows the dangers of not being on top of things on the road....If he does drive it is only local and always with me..never alone anymore...

By 3horses On 2011.01.26 09:02
Thank you for the warm welcomes. I am so happy I've finally found someone to talk to that knows what I'm going through. His driving terrifies me. I drive when we go someplace together, but he insists on driving to pick up essentials for the horses instead of having them delivered. He has had several "mini" accidents, but his neuro said that would happen and it usually adds up to something big. He told me to get an umbrella policy and a POA, both of which I did 3 years ago. Unfortunately I know what the phases of this dreadful disease are as I/we cared for his mother who also had PD in our home until her passing. I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd be caring for my husband in the same way. It is so much more difficult than my mother-in-law. We took turns caring for her, but now I'm in it alone. I have hired a college student to hang out and study at our house between classes and to just be around for company since I work. That didn't go over very well at first. He resented me getting a "sitter" for him and was very vocal about his displeasure. It's been a couple of months now and he misses the kid when he goes to class. It's great to be able to vent... thank you!

By Lacy On 2011.01.26 09:54
Taking control of the life of someone who has always had it all together is very difficult. I allowed my husband to just take care of me. I didn't have to worry about oil changes, balancing checkbooks, paying bills, maintaining the lawn, etc. He did all that. Now I'm doing it all, plus everything else I used to do!! The driving issue was a nightmare for me/us.

Finally, I just said "No more. I'm scared to get in the car with you and my sisters won't ride with you, haven't you noticed?" The last straw was when he bumped the car ahead of him on a busy street and one of my co-workers saw it happen and told me about it. I confronted my husband and told him that we can't take any more chances of something worse happening. He didn't like it, but he finally relented....and yet still, today, he'll say something like "I'll drive you to work today." And I'll just tell him thanks but I have meetings today and not sure what time I'll get done. He always seems satisfied with that. I no longer remind him that he can't drive or that I can't allow him to drive. He just sometimes forgets that he isn't driving anymore.

But please....if there's any way possible that you can stop him from driving, do it. I know it's difficult. I saw my mother take away Dad's keys, and I took away my PD's keys. It's no fun, but you have to do it, not only for his sake but for the safety of others on the roads.

By 3horses On 2011.01.26 10:25
Lacy.. He is still employed but is no longer teaching. He has an office with a computer and a phone. He feels he needs to go to the office. I try everything to keep him from going... scheduling Sears repair or delivery of some kind. I discussed his situation with one of his colleagues last week and asked that he talk to his boss about working from home. I'm just waiting to hear the results of that conversation. Should be any day now. I'll be relieved when that happens. He doesn't remember what day it is and has gotten lost twice but eventually finds his way home.

By Pearly4 On 2011.01.26 10:37
Found this in an earlier post ---

By jsmitch On 2010.10.11 19:47

See this month's commentary:

By LOHENGR1N On 2011.01.27 00:12
I quit driving a few years ago when I realized my reaction time was becoming a problem (also around this time a friend in support group had an accident T-boned a car at an intersection because he couldn't stop in time. Luckily no one was injured). Some things to be considered with driving are; Patients seldom recognize impairment. Many Neurologists overestimate ability of Parkinson's Patients. When driving we use and need good perception, judgement, reaction time, decision making, multi-tasking ability continuous tracking and attention. Parkinson's can create problems with these things.

Physical and mental reaction time; Bradykinesia slow movement, reaction to situations and hazards.

Visual-spatial orientation problems; trouble keeping car in lanes, recognizing traffic signals and signs. Landmarks and shapes.

Concentration problems; multi-tasking, passengers, radios and traffic can cause problems.

Fatigue and sleep attacks.

Off/on fluctuations.

Muscle stiffness; Range of motion limited esp. neck. Rigid muscles hamper steering, gas and brake peddle use and quick movement.

And finally many insurance companies might refuse coverage or deny liability when involved in accident if not told before hand of ailment and driving with impairment and under the influence of prescription drugs. (you lose home and any retirement funds = life savings)

If reason fails when it's time to stop driving it is time for some tough love. You will save the life of your loved one or someone else's loved one by taking the keys away.

Take care, best of luck and hang in there.

By Emma On 2011.01.27 06:25
Very good points LOHENGRIN, your insight and common sense are really remarkable. With my husband of course the biggest fear was that he would kill or seriously injure himself or someone else. Besides the enormous tragedy of that the fallout could be losing everything you have. Driving with PD really is a very very serious issue and something that HAS to be dealt with no matter how difficult. Thank you for the point by point reminder of that for people who are facing this situation right now.

By susger8 On 2011.01.28 09:34
3horses, this is one of the most difficult things about the progression of the disease. My father seemed to be driving OK with some restrictions -- he agreed not to drive at night, and he avoided highways. But -- he FORGOT the restrictions. I got a call from the police that he had gone off the road and hit the curb -- at 8 PM on Halloween night. What if he had hit some kids trick-or-treating? Fortunately he wasn't hurt and the damage to the car was minor, but I realized he had to stop driving entirely.

Not long after that, he had a bad fall and broke some ribs. His license expired while he was in rehab. Although he wouldn't drive without a valid license, I wasn't sure he would remember he didn't have one. So I took all the car keys. He really was attached to keeping his car, so I use it for driving him to the doctor, etc.

He complained for at least a couple of years about wanting to drive, but I would just try to distract him.

I guess my point is, if you get your PWP to agree to stop driving, or to drive under restricted conditions, don't count on him or her to keep the agreement. He or she might just forget. You have to take the keys.


P.S. See Emma's frightening experience related to a driver with PD!

By parkinit On 2011.01.28 10:09
I must say, LOHENGR1N, I, too, am amazed by your insight. This is something that has gone out the window with my PDer. He just doesn't make good decisions and that you came to this conclusion on your own (to quit driving) is amazing.

I have had a battle with the driving issue and my spouse's license was removed after a complaint was made to the state motor vehicle division. He knows the complaint ultimately came from me even though I tried to go through an organization so the real complainer would be possibly untrackable. Unfortunately, I couldn't lie to my spouse, so when he asked me, I had to say "yes." He still beleives he should drive at times and brings this up. He cannot even drive his power chair without banging into things . . . multiple times a day. Yes, he was mad at me. Yes, I made the right decision. You just have to do what is right and will protect others.

The lack of insight comes when they think they can still drive, when they don't think their reflexes are hindered, when they think they still are THINKING quickly. We were there.

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