When Is It Time to Take Away the Keys?

As a caregiver, you must be intentionally proactive in your subjective and objective reality.   My mother told me in one conversation, the hardest thing about getting old was the lack of ability to do the things you have always done.  She was referring to driving her car. Mommy did not learn to drive until my father died in 1965.  I share some of these stories in my book: From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor. One of the first signs that became noticeable that ‘’it might be time to take away the keys’’ was her diminished reflex reaction time and her dimming eyesight. As independent as Shibbolethia B. Lewis was, the realization that things in her world had changed was a bummer. 

So how do we arrest this scenario? It starts by paying attention to the movement and action of your loved-one. Observe a lot in silence. Never let a senior know you are policing them!  Are they walking slower? Are they taking longer to complete a task? Are they moving book pages or newspapers back and forth to get a better view on the items they are reading? One of my memorable moments of realizing “It’s time to take the keys” is playing a game of scrabble with mommy. She was an educator in the Toledo Public School System for 30+ years. She was a razor-sharp teacher. Rarely did things get past her but making words with her scrabble letter took a bit too long and placing the tiles on the scrabble board told a bigger story.

I had to be creative in taking away the keys. You know what I did? I’m glad you asked. I offered to drive her to and from the senior center. That was time for us to hang out, and she never felt I was taking away the keys.  Later, I discovered the senior center had a transportation service that picked up the seniors daily. Yeah!  As a Proactive Caregiver Advocate, it cannot be overstated to pay attention for health and safety’s sake!

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