Demented Doesn't Mean Dumb

Jacqueline Marcell Health Guide
  • When I was taking care of my elderly parents, both with early Alzheimer's (one of many types of dementia), I was so astonished by the many creative and crafty manipulations my father came up with. One time he hid the car keys and we couldn't find them for four days. We patted him down, searched every inch of the house, and begged him to give them up. He swore a blue streak at us that we must have just lost them.


    Finally one morning we heard, "click, click, click", as he shuffled to the kitchen table.


    "Daaaad, what's that clicking noise?"


    "I don't hear nothin'."


    "OK, lift up your pant leg."

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    Finally he complied, and there, taped to his calf, were the car keys. Oy ve.


    When I told a social worker about my dad's latest antics, she tried to put it in perspective for me when she said, "Oh yes, I see these types of manipulations all the time. Let me assure you: Demented does not mean stupid - at all. It's a concept that is neither widely appreciated nor accepted, but let me assure you of it. You get that, right?"


    Only after I published my book, "Elder Rage", and started to receive thousands of hysterical emails from adult children coping with their own crafty elders, did I really get it.


    One gal emailed that she put "The Club" on the steering wheel of the car to keep her demented father from driving, and the next day when she went to visit her parents, her father had AAA there - sawing it off! When she stopped that from happening, the next day her father just called the dealership and bought another car!


    You can learn more about Jacqueline and find information about her book at

Published On: October 10, 2007