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How can we get my mother-in-law to remember to let us borrow her car?

We had to move my 85yo mother-in-law from TX to CA because my father-in-law passed away. She's in the early stages of dementia. She drove in TX, but we've explained she can no longer drive (especially on our CA freeways). She had always said in the past that her granddaughter (our 19yo daughter) can have her car when she got to CA. But understandably she has forgotten. So, now she panics when one of us uses her car, for fear of needing to drive somewhere. Our two cars that we share with our daughter are pretty much on their last legs. It has gotten uncomfortable for my husband to keep having to ask her for us to borrow her car. It's been 3 months and he says she needs more time.
Status: Open    Feb 01, 2017 - 02:02 PM

Dementia

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Feb 18, 2017 - 09:19 AM

It was wonderful in many ways for you take her in and I'm sure her inital intent was to allow your daughter to drive her car. As an older person myself with several several grandkids it would bother me with a teen driving my car and especially there. I've had to give up so many things from my long life due to an illness a couple of years ago. I had to stay with my daughter for year but finally graduated to my own place. During that time she took my keys from me and it was the worst thing she could have done. It wasn't that I was going to go some place but it unnerved me. It was appreciated that she took me in. All my may years of memories were in storage however my car is my car. Now my father who is 84 and in Alaska agreed with me too. He hasn't been in the best of health but travels from Alaska to Washington and to Boise. He's learnt to pace himself and it is becoming more difficult but what I would suggest is to take her out a few times with her driving so she doesn't feel she has lost all her freedom from aging. If there is a park near by or just a small trip and one of you could go with her as a passenger it might help her to in more ways than you realize. Your car situations are difficult but she's dealing with her own life changes too. As I said to my kids...one of you will get my car eventually but not yet or now. :)

I hope this is of some help.

Feb 18, 2017 - 04:46 PM

You can't get her to remember. It just won't happen. Does your husband hold her durable power of attorney? If not, who is authorized to make decisions for her? You need to get some basic legal issues in place immediately, before her dementia gets worse and she is unable to make valid decisions.
Three months is not really a long time for an 85 year old who has lost her spouse and home, friends and independence to make the transition to life in a new state, living with three people that she is not accustomed to. Have some compassion for her. Your husband is right: she needs more time.
Maybe I'm making a false judgment, but you seem more interested in your husband's uncomfortableness and your two ready-to-die cars than in your mother-in-law's emotional needs. She needs to feel secure that her needs will be taken care of; reassure her that you love her and will take her anywhere she needs to go and will provide for her needs, if that is true.
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