Help with car keys

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oc gal

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My father is having a difficult time turning the key to start his pickup. He's lost quite a bit of strength in his thumb. Has anyone found anything that works to improvise for this loss?
 

BethU

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Hi, OC gal ...

There was an illustration of a gizmo to turn keys on the forum Patients Like Me that looked very useful. You could do a search there. I believe it was something that someone built themselves.

The ignition key is the hardest of all for me to manage, too, as there is little room to maneuver. I am now using a "knuckle turn," where I turn the key with my thumb and the knuckle of the 2rd finger, instead of the end of the finger. A pliers should work, too. I figure that will be my next step.

Tell your dad this Forum is sending him good wishes.

And you take care, too!
 

AHands

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truck keys...an emotionally charged issue, but important to honestly address: PALS need to determine at what point we will voluntarily limit, and eventually give up, operating motor vehicles, out of respecting our responsibility to not endanger others. CALS can help with exploring other options, providing alternatives and broaching the subject with compassion.
 

BethU

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Hi, Ahands ... good point about when to stop driving. I have a copy of the AAA senior drivers test (it's an interactive disk) which I take every year and have been doing since before I had symptoms of ALS.

I took it this morning, and it showed no impairment in any of the areas it tests: leg strength and general mobility, flexibility in moving head to see behind you, reflexes, cognitive ability (spotting cars/trucks in various parts of the computer screen, identifying their positions and identifying the kind of vehicle, etc), peripheral vision, decision making and lots more.

All this is good. It gives me one less thing to worry about right now ... but what it doesn't measure is what I have already detected weakness in, which is arm strength. I have no trouble steering the car when it's moving, but when the car is BARELY moving, such as in parallel parking or backing out of a parking place, it's a job for me to turn the steering wheel. Fortunately, when I'm parking or backing out and the car is going one mile per hour, I'm unlikely to hit anyone!

But I know the arm weakness will get worse, and even though the AAA test continues to show "no impairment in driving abilities" I may have to overrule it.

This is always a difficult decision for older drivers, ALS or not.
 

hopingforthebest

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My husband used a 3 inch machine screw with a nut and put it through the hole of the key and used double nut with a screw, cost him 12 cents at Home Depot. He was an industrial engineer for 30 years and every device that OT ever suggested he never used.

Engineers are in a class all their own! :razz:
 

hopeandlove

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Just curious about the car key turning

Is it the lose of muscle strength to put pressure between the thumb and first finger that causes the challenge?

I was wondering if those new keyless keys some of the automakers are using makes a difference or if it is the twisting motion?
 

CindyM

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I bought some of the gizmos from the website AL posted. I've been using them for a few months now, as I have lost the muscles between my thumbs and index fingers. This is an inexpensive and simple solution that works for now!
 

SteveS

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I myself would be concerned about people driving in a compromised situation. I know the last time I asked my wife to drive which must have been in January of this year it was a horrifying experience for her. We both own 5 speed transmission vehicles and with her legs she was barely able to operate the clutch and brake pedals. She is no longer driving and will probably end up having to surrender her license. There is nothing wrong with her upper body yet and could probably drive a altered vehicle for the disabled. Her car is brand new and I am not aware if they can modify a standard transmission vehicle. We dare not trade it in yet as it is so new we owe more than it is worth...lol
 

BethU

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Hopeandlove ... One thing I've discovered with keys is that there is more to it than just "turning." We do these automatic motions without thinking for so long, we don't realize what all is involved.

With my car key, I've discovered, you don't just stick the key in the lock and turn it. You have to stick the key in the lock and keep pushing in while you turn it. I never knew I was doing that before ALS. Now that I'm aware of it, I'm having much less trouble.

All these tiny maneuvers become so second nature that when our dexterity declines, we have to consciously relearn how we did them.

I know that learning to push in while turning the key is only going to buy me a couple extra months of driving, but I don't worry about six months from now. My only concern is how do I safely do what I have to do today. And I believe that there are all kinds of modifications that can be made on vehicles to accommocate various weaknesses.

INHO those of us who are physically challenged and are aware of our limitations and are consciously compensating for them are probably better drivers than 90% of our fellow drivers who are still chatting on phones and texting (despite the laws), eating, drinking, and bouncing around to music while driving. :)
 
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Zaphoon

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The Darn Gear Shift Lever

I have trouble shifting from drive back into park or any time I have to shift upwards on the gear shift (if the shifty thing is on the column). I have to use both hands.

I see my wife shift without any problems (one handed). I have more difficulty with that than I do shifting.:D

Zaphoon
 

patricia1

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Thats a good indication to stop driving
I did. It wasnt easy but I dont want t o kill someone

Pat
 

Zaphoon

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Pat,

I'm looking into the nature of why such terrible upper arm strength. I'm seriously thinking about getting a vehicle with an "on the floor" gear shift. As long as I don't have to do any upward movement, I'm okay. I was driving a Windstar van and the lever wasn't nearly as difficult as my wife's Sable.

The van died (bad carma). I need to replace it anyway. But you're right, If these arms can't be rehabbed, my driving days are limitted. I'm hoping that's not the case.

Zaphoon
 

afterhoursauto

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Hi,
This is my first time posting but we had this problem, my boss has a Yukon truck and he owns a body shop. What one of our guys did was install on the center console a rocker switch for ignition this is for on and off & micro switch to start. The micro switch is a push button. This works great. You would be able to get this done at a custom auto/stereo place. If any body has any questions please feel free to let us know. I hope this has been a help.
Jenn
 

oc gal

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Thank you to everyone! Very helpful ideas. I really appreciate all the honest answers. I need to check with Dad about shifting. It's an automatic, but shifting "upwards" could be an issue for him too. One other thing we did was buy a steering wheel cover hoping to make the wheel thicker and therefore easier to hold onto. We'll see if it works. Just got it last night. I hear the concerns about when to stop driving. At this point he is being evaluated by the dr every three months by order of the DOT. He only drives in town and living in a small town is a plus right now.
 
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