“How do you get out of this thing?”
We’ve pulled into the garage and Bo is trying to unhook his seatbelt. I tell him what to do, but he can’t figure it out.
This isn’t unusual.
There have been short rides uptown when he’s still trying to fasten the seatbelt almost the entire ride.
One day I got out of the car and went straight into the house, only to realize some minutes later that I was alone. I returned to find him sitting in the car, trying to figure out how to open the door.
This evening I had to pick up my laptop at the store. It was a hot day and when I came out, he was standing with the car door open, trying to figure out how to get the windows down.
He can’t figure out how to move the seat, how to open the trunk, how to open the garage door. Simply cannot process the fact that the headlights will go off in 30 seconds.
And so it goes.
People have asked me about taking the car keys away. I am very fortunate because this isn’t something I’ve had to do. For the past year and a half he simply hasn’t wanted to drive. No matter where we’re going, he’ll say, “I’ll go but you drive. I don’t feel up to it.” Yet in conversation he says he drives … to places he hasn’t gone in a long time.
Recently, when we had our sad discussions about his condition, each time he asked me, “Well, doesn’t the … you know …. the vehicle government ….. do they know about me? That I shouldn’t drive?” And I would explain that there was no reason for them to know since he doesn’t drive. “I don’t?” he asks, surprised. Then I explain and he forgets. It continues to be a concern that he repeats over and over.
Another question I’ve been asked is why I still have both cars. My answer is that if I sold one, Bo would no doubt obsess about where it is. On the days that I take one for an oil change or some other maintenance, he asks all day where the car is. I just don’t think I could handle the constant questions.
Note: there is an interesting link on this site to an interview with a professor who has dementia. His answers really help to understand what it is like inside the head of a person who is deteriorating with alzheimer’s. (Blogroll: Interview with an AZ patient)