The waving of the white flag has been somewhat continuous over the last year here. From making a conscious decision to not drive any more, to agreeing to surrender her license, my mother has had to let a lot of things go.
When I realized that she wasn’t driving any more about a year ago, I let several months go by to be sure she was really ready to quit. She told me that she lost her confidence on the road, and worried if something happened like an accident or losing her way home, she wouldn’t know what to do. So now she relies on me to drive her to the grocery store, mall, doctor’s appointments, hair appointments, to meet her friends, etc. I worried that she would get bored staying home so much waiting for me to take her somewhere. I thought that less stimulation would mean more loss of cognitive function. And although she assures me that she is not bored, she has lost ground cognitively. I’ve suggested a few times that she go to Adult Day Care, or allow me to set her up with a companion from church. She has said no to all of my suggestions.
So last month, we walked in to DMV to surrender her vehicle registration and her license. I kept a close eye on her to see if I could detect any regrets, sadness, or loss of self, and I just couldn’t. She knew it was time and had to do it. She ended up with an enhanced ID card which will allow her to get in to Canada. And since they are our close and friendly neighbor’s to the north, and she loves Montreal, we may take a trip.
During this year of transition, she has also relinquished paying her bills, playing cards with her friends (aside from not being able to drive to her friend’s house, she is no longer a match for playing with people who don’t have dementia), putting her medicines together for the week, and standing in the check-out line alone at the grocery store. She often asks me to look at her mail because she can’t figure out if something is important or not. She used to do my taxes, now I’m doing hers.
We’ve all heard that life is like water. That there is really no way of completely controlling matters, and so moving along with things rather than fighting them is a much easier way to live. My mother has choreographed her ballet with her late-in-life losses very well, and I detect somewhat of a peaceful existence, for both of us, because of it.