KOMO TV News

Driving Under the Influence of Dementia: Part 2

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STOP signI addressed some of the issues of Driving under the influence of dementia in an article I wrote in November 2013.  Back then I hadn’t planned on writing a Part 2 for this article, but after a couple local incidents involving DUI of dementia, I must provide the following.

Yesterday afternoon in a suburb of Seattle (in Bellevue), an 89-year old woman with early stage Alzheimer’s left her house for her normal daily routine of going to her favorite pancake house, then to several retail locations.  She never returned home last night and as of today, she is still considered missing.  I hope the outcome of her case is better than that of another elderly person with Alzheimer’s who also went on a brief errand, but never came home.  (Update as of 12/28/13 6:45 pm: this woman was found safe approximately 16 hours after she first left her home.  She was found 20 miles away from home.  Unfortunately, she wandered 20 miles away from her normal driving area.)

On Saturday, December 21, 2013, Joseph Douret left his Seattle area home (in Issaquah), to grab dinner.  He was reported missing the next day by his wife who stated that he never came home the previous evening when he left to grab some dinner for the two of them.  Mr. Douret, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, was found dead in his vehicle on Christmas Eve.  Police indicated that he appeared to have died of natural causes.

Taking away the keys to a vehicle – or getting rid of the vehicle as need be – are both very difficult tasks, but these are tasks that must take place if a loved one with dementia still has access to their automobile.  “But he/she is only driving a few blocks to pick up a couple items; there’s no way he/she will get lost.”  Unfortunately, what should be a routine drive can become a death journey because nothing is routine for the person with a brain addled by dementia.  Nothing looks normal or familiar;  the anxiety ratchets up several notches; panic sets in; and the countdown begins for that person’s last hours of life on earth.  Even if the person is eventually found safe, he or she will have endured a very uncomfortable time emotionally and physically.  The positive outcome of that incident, however, is that it will most likely be the catalyst that spurs people on to remove all driving options from their loved one.

Please make the decision today to take action and do the responsible thing on behalf of the person with Alzheimer’s or other dementia.

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Baby Boomers – what is your Mt. Everest moment?

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Associated Press News story  – Japanese climber, 80, becomes oldest atop Everest.

The above article chronicles a “competition” between two gentlemen in their 80’s who endeavored to become the oldest person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.   I’m happy to say that 80-year old Yuichiro Miura reached the summit successfully on May 23rd, 2013 and became the oldest person to do so.  Following on his heels is an 81-year old Nepalese man, Min Bahadur Sherchan, who will make his attempt some time next week, most likely making Mr. Miura’s 15 minutes of fame just a bit of has-been news as the Nepalese man takes his place as the oldest to successfully reach the summit.  Not many of us – alright, none of us – will reach the summit of Mt. Everest or even care to do so…

and that’s okay.

The last rays of sunlight on Mount Everest on ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We all have Everest moments, don’t we?  Yuichiro Miura’s goal to summit Everest is not our goal.  Mr. Miura stated his reason/goal to climb Everest: “It is to challenge my own ultimate limit.”  We all have our personalized goals that involve reaching our own ultimate limit.  I’ve had many of those moments in my 60 years of life – some of them exercise related, but more importantly, most of them were personal growth related.  The most recent exercise goal has been the successful completion of two one-hour Pure Barre exercise classes…with three more to go in order to fully utilize the gift package that my daughter Erin gave me in honor of my 60 years.  We’re doing this together, and please know that my 37 year old daughter is in far better shape than I am  …  and that’s okay.  I am no expert on this type of exercise, and believe me, within minutes of completing each session, I’m in excruciating pain.  But that’s okay because those exercise sessions didn’t kill me nor did they disable me; they simply made me realize that I was up to the challenge of doing more than I thought I was able.

Isn’t that the key?  Maybe your Everest goal is finally having the courage to talk to someone about matters that concern you; or your Everest goal is changing jobs – or changing relationships; or perhaps your Everest summit is completing your high school or college education?  Whatever your goal – whatever your Everest – when you reach that goal you are no less newsworthy than Mr. Miura or Mr. Sherchan.  Quite frankly, what these octogenarians are doing is fabulous and I respect and honor their accomplishments – but I don’t admire their accomplishments any more than those of which you and I are the proudest.  Mr. Miura stated that a successful climb would raise the bar for what is possible and that he had a strong determination that now is the time.

Now is always the time – because it’s the only time we have.

I’ll complete the remainder of the exercise gift package that my daughter gave me.  Who knows, maybe I’ll buy some more sessions to continue on that journey – maybe I won’t.  What I do know, however, is that I will always set goals, and I will always do my best to reach them.

When you do your best – you’ve done the best you can.

I hope you’ll feel proud enough of your Mt. Everest moments to share them with all of us.  I, for one, can hardly wait to hear about them.