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TROUBLESHOOTER / My husband has dementia; I worry about his driving

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a homemaker in my 50s and live with my husband, who is in his 70s.

He goes to the hospital regularly because he has problems with his heart, among other health problems. Recently, he began taking medicine for dementia.

Since we got married, my husband has managed the household budget and given me money whenever I needed some. However, since he started showing signs of dementia, he sometimes doesn’t give me any money.

Also, when my husband goes shopping, he drives, which is very dangerous. I’ve repeatedly told him to stop, but he doesn’t listen. Our child lives nearby but is very busy with work so can’t visit us often.

I want my husband to stop driving and let me manage the household budget. But he seems to look down on his primary care doctor and doesn’t listen to his advice.

I’m wondering what I should do next. Please give me some advice.

U, Okayama Prefecture

Dear Ms. U:

You have two problems related to your husband’s dementia. Something must be done about his driving immediately, otherwise a fatal accident could occur.

If he commits a traffic offense and is suspected of having dementia, there is a possibility his driver’s license will be revoked based on the result of a dementia test. But you can’t afford to wait for that outcome.

One way is for his primary care doctor to report the matter to a public safety commission. This is allowed by law, so please consult with the doctor. Alternatively, you could discuss the matter at a police station.

It’s also a problem that you are not being given any money. When a person loses their ability to manage their assets due to declining mental functions caused by dementia or other problems, guardianship is an option.

Under the system, if the results of an appraisal determine that a guardianship is necessary, someone is appointed to manage their assets on their behalf.

It is possible for you to become his guardian. But I cannot determine if your husband falls into this category. You should consult with his primary care doctor about this matter as well.

Although this advice may sound like a legal consultation, your letter is a reminder that things like this can occur in our lives.

Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist

(from Sept. 18, 2018, issue)Speech

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