It was a welcome relief when the 10 day stay at the hospital ended and Mom was able to return home. The comfort that we all feel with being in our own home was certainly evident in her! The walker would be a new challenge but she knew it was for her safety and so she worked hard at adjusting. The visit to the doctor for testing was a different hurdle. She was exhausted when she came out of his office.
At the follow up appointment her doctor told her that some of her testing did not meet the standards and she would no longer be able to drive. Her memory was deteriorating and she was being diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer disease and that he would have to take her licence that day. There are times in our lives when we digress to that place, the childlike place where your parent is the hero and they are invincible in our eyes. My heart ached for her in that moment. He discussed some treatment and some drug therapy that may be helpful for her to try.
The reality was here. Alzheimer’s such a word, such a fear, such a terrible disease! The question came slowly from Mom as she had time to process the appointment. ” I have always been a good driver why did he take my licence?” “You are a good driver Mom and always have been but the doctor wants you to be safe. There are so many crazy drivers on the road.” The loss of the gift of driving her car was devastating. She had purchased that Buick 3 years earlier and it was the first car that she bought on her own. My father always made the decisions of what car to purchase and this had been her choice. It was such an exciting day when we picked up that car. She was so proud and her grandchildren thought it was “cool” and of course all were in line to drive that new car! Grandma would take them out, they drove and she sat and smiled! She decided that she would tell people that she gave up her licence as she just didn’t want to drive anymore. As I reflect on that day there was no discussion from her about Alzheimer’s at all.
Meetings with Home Care and the Alzheimer Society brought more information to us. We set up lifeline for her and she started receiving home care to assist her . She was part of a coffee group that met daily so I knew she would have contact with friends that would help her get through this time. This very social, active vibrant woman was having to cope with a great loss as she could no longer just get up and go! I encouraged her that many stores were within walking distance.She was an active walker before this, but I wondered if things would change now. Of course her children and grandchildren would be glad to give her a ride anywhere! Being in a small town there was no public transit, but there were other options and we researched them for her use. There was a courtesy car so she could still attend weekly worship services.
It was just so different for her, and I watched her struggle as I knew she was confused and afraid. It was the fear and anxiety that was the most difficult for me to help her with. She started to come to a place where she did not want to go out alone as she did not want to “do something wrong.” She was fine if I was there but alone she started becoming more fearful. The attack of this damn disease on her mind was causing her to lose her confidence. I wanted to fix this situation but knew I couldn’t, so I tried to prepare for what was yet to come.