We are independent beings. When we become old enough to get our driver's license we are standing at the DMV with our money in hand. Independence at last!!! Do you remember that wonderful feeling? So now, skip ahead a few decades, you know something is wrong. You mind is slower, you can't remember things, your motor skills are not what they were, so you go to your doctor.
Tests, questions, maybe a PET scan, maybe an EEG, and then the verdict; You have a Dementia type disease. What do you do now? What happens to your independence? All of us who are on the journey called LBD know exactly what I am saying. A rush of thought go through your mind and one of the first was probably how long can I drive?! Yes, the thought of life expectancy was there, would I need to be institutionalized, how long before I get bad, but my independence was foremost in my mind.
I still drive, but I am much more careful, defensive, deliberate, than I was. I never drive when I am tired and I seldom drive at night. And, I have started to let my wife drive more ofter. She is a very good driver and I trust her without question. But she will tell you I am a terrible passenger!! Just the same, a slow transition resulting in me no longer driving is the right thing.
I was very fortunate because my Neurologist diagnosed my disease very early! That has permitted us to work out the future before it happened. That also permitted the memory support drugs, Raxadyne and Namenda to work their magic. Now I know they are beginning to reach the end of their effectiveness, but we are ready. I know friends who either had a very quick onset of Dementia or denied the warning signs and symptoms and delayed seeking treatment until it was too late for the drugs to help.
So, this edition of advice is simple;
First; Go to your doctor as soon as you feel the symptoms occurring!! This is the most important thing you can do for yourself!!!
Second; Make a plan with your spouse, your children, for the progression of the disease.
Third; Begin a process that will gradually lead to YOU no longer driving! My plan gives my wife total control over my driving. I even have this in my Living Will and my Medical documents. She knows me best, especially after 40 years of marriage, so she knows when I am unable to drive.
Fourth; For the caretaker, take your new passenger out, even when there is no where to go. This will enhance his feeling of being independent as he looses that independence.
These things have worked for us. But, as the old commercial used to say; "I am not a doctor, and I don't play one on TV." so discuss this with your doctor when you do what I recommended in step one!
You and you spouse are the strongest part of your support group. Yes, a great GP and a understanding Neurologist is important, but they don't see you 24/7. Your spouse does so listen to that person! They won't steer you wrong.