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Question
Posted by: Beth | 2011-02-09

Mom

My mom was diagnosed with macular degeneration in November 2010. The doctor told her to stop driving immediately. She is 73 years old but very healthy. She went for the injections in her eyes in December, January and today. She thinks that the injections will recover her eyesight so that she can drive again. But unfortunately it''s not so. It was to stop further damage. My sister and I have this problem. We are both to scared to tell her that this damage is permanent and that she will never be able to drive again. She is waiting for a miracle or that the injections do the work. How do we go about telling her this sad news?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

In various forms this is a sadly common problem - how to gently break a sad truth to a loved one. It is a fact that macular degeneration will not be reversed, and that it will no longer be safe for her to drive. Presumably it feels very important to her to be able to drive, but I'd guess this is not usually about driving as such, but about being independent, going out and about when and as she wishes to do so. Maybe you can focus first on the suggestion that its generally agreed that she can't drive right now, and planning for alternative ways to help her maintain her independence and other life functions - if she can find that she can go shopping with one of you, and get a ride when she needs to go elsewhere, then when, still soon, one needs to discuss the fact that the injections are hoped to stop or delay a worsening of her vision, that good enough vision for driving will not return ; it can be discussed on the basis that it isawfully disappointing, but that she has already begun to find ways to remain independent despite losing the capacity to drive.
I found when my own dear mother went through a similar phase, when she suddenly was no longer able to drive after a head injury ; firstly she took the bad news more bravely than anyone else expected ; and we helped by emphasizing her true value as a consultant for advice on many other things we were doing. No longer able to drive to go shopping, she came with us, having suggested the shopping list, and checking we had got all that was needed, and so on.
As in many such situations, we need to reconize the limited choices we have. Soon, it will be obvious to her that the vision is not returning and that she will not drive again. Her doctor will have to respond honestly when she next asks ; and she knows that she is not seeing better. So one's best choice is to be honest in a kind way, tolerate her sadness and anger, agree that this is not fair, but that it's a fact of life for which we must jointly plan.

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3
Our users say:
Posted by: Young | 2011-02-09

Get the DR to tell her, he has had to do this many times before with old people.Make sure you are present and prime him before hand.

Reply to Young
Posted by: Casey | 2011-02-09

Maybe it is best to tell her the truth.

Reply to Casey
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011-02-09

In various forms this is a sadly common problem - how to gently break a sad truth to a loved one. It is a fact that macular degeneration will not be reversed, and that it will no longer be safe for her to drive. Presumably it feels very important to her to be able to drive, but I'd guess this is not usually about driving as such, but about being independent, going out and about when and as she wishes to do so. Maybe you can focus first on the suggestion that its generally agreed that she can't drive right now, and planning for alternative ways to help her maintain her independence and other life functions - if she can find that she can go shopping with one of you, and get a ride when she needs to go elsewhere, then when, still soon, one needs to discuss the fact that the injections are hoped to stop or delay a worsening of her vision, that good enough vision for driving will not return ; it can be discussed on the basis that it isawfully disappointing, but that she has already begun to find ways to remain independent despite losing the capacity to drive.
I found when my own dear mother went through a similar phase, when she suddenly was no longer able to drive after a head injury ; firstly she took the bad news more bravely than anyone else expected ; and we helped by emphasizing her true value as a consultant for advice on many other things we were doing. No longer able to drive to go shopping, she came with us, having suggested the shopping list, and checking we had got all that was needed, and so on.
As in many such situations, we need to reconize the limited choices we have. Soon, it will be obvious to her that the vision is not returning and that she will not drive again. Her doctor will have to respond honestly when she next asks ; and she knows that she is not seeing better. So one's best choice is to be honest in a kind way, tolerate her sadness and anger, agree that this is not fair, but that it's a fact of life for which we must jointly plan.

Reply to cybershrink

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