The Caregiver's Handbook

Caring for a loved one—and yourself

Taking the Car Keys Away—Forever

Illness rushes the hands on the "stop driving clock." Tips to remember when you must force a spouse or parent to look at the time on their clock. Read More

taking the car keys away

You know as well as I do that your "suggestions" are bullsh-t. They don't work. What does work is have a third party do the dirty work of taking the keys away, as that approach at least keeps the primary relationship between husband and wife from disintegrating and leaving both spouses even more vulnerable. Nurse practitioners, in collusion with responsible adult children, are well aware of their role as "the bad cop" in situations like these. The "good cop" part of the equation is often the smorgasbord of options to help soften the blow, some which will be tolerated well, like Meals on Wheels, and others, like outside helpers, which might be rejected. Having a few choices to pick and/or reject helps the soon-to-be-keyless keep some control over their life and retain what little dignity they have left.

Take the Car Keys Away - reply

Thank you for reading my article and sending your comments. Obviously this is a big topic for you.
I agree with you about working to maintain the primary relationship and allowing the patient to retain dignity. Perhaps you could take another look at the article where you’ll find that both of those issues are directly addressed. Dignity is referenced starting as early as the first paragraph where I suggest the reader consider what this would be like for them. It is then wound throughout with concepts such as collaboration – which also addresses the primary relationship – right down to the last sentence about reclaiming the love relationship. Options are also given. While I have not proposed a “good cop” scenario, one option mentioned is to “enlist the help of others”. Unfortunately, a brief article does not allow me delve into the many ways people can learn to collaborate to ensure this better outcome – one that would eliminate looking at this whole process as “dirty work”. That is why I reference my book, Caregiving Wife’s Handbook, in which the focus is not only about keeping the primary relationship intact, but actually repairing damage that was caused from dealing with an illness.
I cannot agree with your first two sentences, however, as I do know the methods I suggest work. I was a long-term caregiver myself in addition to having worked with many people in my role as a medical psychotherapist.

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Diana B. Denholm, Ph.D., L.M.H.C., is a medical psychotherapist and the author of The Caregiving Wife's Handbook.

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