Posts Tagged ‘Michael Ellenbogen’

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Driving, Dementia and Today’s Technology

Driving, Dementia and Today’s Technology

By Michael Ellenbogen

Michael behind the wheel

In 2010 I was thinking of buying a new car but I did not want to invest the money as I was not sure how much longer I would be able to drive. I live with dementia, and I feared I would need to stop driving any day. This went on for years and I was still able to drive. So I finally made the decision to buy a new car in 2013.

That was the best thing I could have done as the new technology helped make up for some of my skillsets that had weakened over the years. It not only improved my driving capabilities, it made me a much safer driver.

At the end of 2017 I had been reading about all the amazing new safety technologies that exist in some new cars. Knowing that these technologies would help make me a safer driver, I decided not to wait for more years to pass, and I went and bought a new car.

While I know not everyone can afford to do this, for those that can I highly recommend you look into using technology to your benefit if you are living with some type of dementia. The one problem I did run into was reading the new manuals and being able to apply the changes to the options. This time around it was much harder for me to read the manuals. My wife helps me greatly in setting it all up to insure it is set up the way I want it. While I may not be able to set it up I sure know how to use it is once it its set.

While there may be some features I will never know how to use, it is important to not fear making the change. This is the best thing I could have done, and I already love the safety features and how they are making driving so much easier.  This new car will allow me to drive much longer than I would have been capable of driving in my old car. I also had to limited my night time driving in the recent years as I had difficulty seeing the road at night. This new car changed that and I now feel very comfortable driving at night. I only wish the self-driving cars were available. I was also very surprised as I was able to still negotiate a great deal. I actually saved over $2,600 on the asking price. This disease is really amazing on how some skills are so impacted and yet others still work with some extra help.

Below are some of the safety features from Toyota. While the vehicle has these features, it is important to insure some of them are turned on in order to function the way they are intended to.

Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) – Helps prevent brakes from locking. The ABS monitors the speed of each wheel to detect locking. When it detects sudden braking, it will release braking pressure for a moment and then provide optimum braking pressure to each wheel. By repeating this process in a short period of time, it enhances steering control during sudden stops. As a result, it will also help improve the ability of stopping the vehicle.

Automatic High Beams (AHB) – is designed to help you see more clearly at night without blinding other drivers. Designed to activate at speeds above 25 mph, AHB rely on an in-vehicle camera to help detect the headlights of oncoming vehicles and taillights of preceding vehicles, then automatically toggle between high and low beams accordingly to provide the appropriate amount of light. By using high beams more frequently, the system may allow earlier detection of pedestrians and obstacles.

Bird’s Eye View Camera with Perimeter Scan – allows for drivers to check their surroundings with a full 360-degree view of their vehicle before pulling into a small parking spot or pulling up next to a curb. It provides a panoramic, seamless image in high definition that leaves no room for mistakes. With this system, drivers can rest assured knowing they’ll be able to detect any hazards before it’s too late. It uses cameras strategically mounted around the vehicle to give drivers.

Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) – indicator light up in the outside mirrors and hear a tone to confirm that the system has been engaged. When a vehicle in the next lane enters your blind spot on either side, the indicator will light up in that side view mirror. If you signal a lane change in that direction while the vehicle is still there, the indicator will flash to get your attention.

Brake Assist and Smart Stop Technology – This technology can sense when you hit the brakes in an emergency situation and apply even more force to help you stop faster and avoid a collision. The Smart Stop Technology automatically stops the vehicle when both the accelerator and the brake pedal is pressed at the same time, just in case you need to bring your new Toyota to a quick stop!

Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) – is intended for highways and similar to “constant speed” cruise control, DRCC lets you drive at a preset speed. DRCC uses vehicle-to-vehicle distance control, which adjusts your speed, to help you maintain a preset distance from vehicles ahead of you that are driving at a slower speed. DRCC uses a front-grille-mounted radar and an in-vehicle camera to detect vehicles and their distance. If a driver is traveling slower than you, or within your preset range, DRCC will automatically slow your vehicle down without deactivating cruise control. If DRCC determines you need to slow down more, an audio and visual alert notifies you and brakes are applied. When there’s no longer a vehicle driving slower than your set speed in front of you, DRCC will then accelerate and regular cruise control will resume.

Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) is incorporated in Toyota’s ABS technology.  EBD helps keep a vehicle more stable and balanced when braking.  During an abrupt stop, momentum can cause a vehicle to tilt forward, reducing the brake force of the rear tires.  EBD responds by redistributing brake force.  Wheels with more braking effectiveness receive more brake force and wheels with less effectiveness receive less brake force, helping to prevent brake lockup.  EBD is especially helpful when carrying cargo.  Sensors recognize the extra load the cargo puts on the rear axle, so brake pressure on the rear wheels is increased because the extra weight improves braking effectiveness.

Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) – Helps prevent wheels from slipping sideways when cornering or sudden steering. VSC is a system that helps prevent side skids and help stabilize the vehicle while turning on a curve. When the vehicle senses a loss of traction or a slip, braking is automatically applied to all 4 individual wheels and engine power is reduced to help secure the safety of the vehicle. For example, if the steering wheel refuses to turn from over-speeding (under-steering), the vehicle will take control to steer toward the inner curve. Also, when the vehicle begins to spin from abrupt steering handling (over-steering), the vehicle will take control to steer toward the outer curve.

Front and Rear Parking Sonar – When your speed drops below 6 miles an hour, the sonar graphic will appear in the Multi-Information Display and you’ll hear beeping to warn you that the system senses another vehicle or obstacle very close to vehicle. If the transmission is in Drive, only the front sensors activate. When you shift into Reverse, both the front and rear sensors come online. The speed of the warning tone and color of the graphic will give you an idea of how close you are. A constant tone and red indicator means you are very close.

Lane Departure Alert (LDA) – Under certain circumstances, LDA is designed to detect lane departure on roads with clear markings. LDA only activates when you’re traveling at a speed of 32 mph or faster. When you hear and see the alert, after carefully checking the road around you, you should safely direct your vehicle back to the center of your lane.

Pre-Collision System (PCS) – Uses an integrated camera and laser or radar to help detect other vehicles in front of you. It can prompt you to take action using audio and visual alerts if it determines a frontal collision is likely. If you notice the potential collision and apply the brakes, PCS may apply additional force using Brake Assist (BA). If you don’t brake in time, PCS may automatically apply the brakes for you, helping to minimize the likelihood of a frontal collision or reduce its severity.

Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD) – Using an in-vehicle camera and radar to help detect a vehicle or a pedestrian in front of you, the PCS w/PD can help you mitigate or avoid a potential collision. If the system determines that a frontal collision is likely, it prompts you to take action using audio and visual alerts. If you notice the potential collision and apply the brakes, PCS w/PD may apply additional force using Brake Assist (BA). If you don’t brake in time, it may automatically apply the brakes to reduce your speed, helping to minimize the likelihood of a frontal collision or reduce its severity.

Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RTCA) – helps when you’re backing out from a parking space, and the vehicle is in reverse and speed is less than 5 MPH. It detects vehicles approaching from the right or left rear traveling between 5 and 18 MPH. If the system senses cross traffic, it warns you by flashing the side near indicators and sounding a warning tone.

Traction Control (TRC) – Helps prevent wheel slippage when the vehicle is starting or accelerating on wet or slippery roads. When you are starting the vehicle, or accelerating on a wet surface, you could lose control of the wheel because of wheel spin. TRC will help prevent such events from happening. TRC continually monitors the condition between the tires and the surface of the road. When it detects wheel spin, the system applies brakes or slows down the engine to regulate spinning and help ensure proper contact of tires. This help prevents the car from becoming unstable. There might be the cases in which the half-side of the wheel runs off or the wheels spin off on the snowy road. And also there might be the case that the current traction control might not be working well. In those cases, Auto LSD is one of the technologies which both improve start ability and run ability.

Source: www.toyota.com




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Boating & Dementia – The Day My Dream Sank

The Day My Dream Sank

Boating and Dementia

By Michael Ellenbogen, Living with Dementia


I have been a very lucky person. I have had the opportunity to own 5 boats in my life time. The last boat I had was sold because my wife and I had no time to use it because of our jobs. That was about 17 years ago. I really did not have the time again due to our work schedules.

Then came my diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in 2009 at age 49, after struggling to get a diagnosis for 10 years. Because of that I was forced to retire. The thought of owning a boat again never left my mind and I kept looking at boats but I had the fear that I would decline in another year or two and would no longer be able to control a boat.

I once had great skills and could easily control a twin-engine boat and move it sideways into any position I wanted. That requires lot of knowledge and multitasking. I was fairly sure I would not be able to do that anymore because of my AD. Over the years I kept looking at boats every chance I could and I just had this dream to buy another but I was so afraid of the added limitations that have been placed on me. Then I realized that the two years were now 4 to 6 years and while I did decline it was not as bad as I thought it would be. I guess I am also lucky there, if one could look at this dam disease in that way.

So I decided to look for a used boat.

While I found many, I was always afraid to buy them because of the possible repairs needed. That is another problem. I once was able to do most of the work on the engines and keep the boat well maintained. I am no longer capable of doing it for reasons I cannot even explain. I don’t even wash and maintain my car, which was always sparkling clean. Something in me has changed; something that would make me look lazy if you did not know I have AD. I just don’t do things anymore. So as you can see this would create many other issues, but I figured I was going to finally live out my dream. I used to say we were the poor boaters because we had to do all of the work, while many had their boats well maintained and they just came down to enjoy them.  That would add a lot to the cost but I knew this was my last opportunity if I was going to do this.

I have been able to find ways to make up for my inabilities.

was even looking for a boat that had what is called a bow thruster. That would allow me to have more control to make up for my loss of skills. This looking went on for years, and I finally came to the conclusion that I would look at a new boat to insure all of the issues would be handled under warranty.

As I tested new boats I found that the high-end boats had technology installed that would make up for my lost skills, and I was so relieved that I now felt very comfortable and all of the issues were now being addressed. But what was great with this new boat is it had a joystick feature. This option allows a novice to look like a professional. It’s almost like playing a game. Whichever way you move the joystick the boat does it all automatically. That is no easy task when you know what is involved. I find the new boats totally amazing. I also now had the confidence that I also knew in my mind that my wife would be able to step in if needed.

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I set my sights on 2016 Regal 35 Sport Coupe

After some negotiations I was having very high anxiety and fear of what I would consider the unknown. I was very surprised that my wife was even okay with making such a purchase. When it comes to deals I always got some of the best deals. With all of these issues and lack of commitment it is like being on a roller coaster.  One minute I wanted it so bad and then came so many fears and I was unsure of the ones I did not know of. One of my problems is that I can no longer see all of the issues at once but can only think about one at a time.

I finally told the sales guy of the issues and did not go through with the deal. He said if he could resolve all the issues I could take a test ride to see if I would feel comfortable being behind the wheel. They finally came back with such a great offer that I could not refuse. As we had to put things in writing I realized many of the things that made me feel comfortable were not being put in writing.  Things that were said were not the same. All this was creating even more anxiety for me. It does not take much to do that but all this started the roller coaster effect and feeling sick to my stomach at times, but I really wanted this boat, so I continued thinking we would overcome all this.

I was not being as sharp as I use to be

I also realized I was not being as sharp as I use to because I could not keep track of all of these issues and needed my wife to do it who just kept letting them getting away with each of these issues. I was also wondering what I did not know that I did not pick up on. I figured we could work this out by the final signing as I had made my request.

In the meantime, we started purchasing many items for the boat as it is like buying a new home in some ways and you need a lot of things. I had forgotten all that. I had made a list of items needed and went into the store to buy them. I came out spending a lot of money and bought many things. Then I realized most of the items on the list were not even purchased. That just created more concerns of my inabilities to get things done right and my wife was not helping as much as I was counting on. I had forgotten how expensive all this was. It was not the money but trying to keep track of all of these things. I just figured I would get over it but seeing them all pile up on my floor was starting to become a bit overwhelming and added to the already existing anxiety.

The night before the sea trail I had trouble sleeping. I had so much anxiety and fear. I even felt like I was going to have a heart attack as I was getting pain in my chest. I finally told my wife and she said we were not going to get the boat. I was so relived and prepared to do that.

But then we saw the boat again at our sea trail and it was such a great looking boat that I had decided to move forward with the deal and take the risk. I kept telling myself it would get better once it was over and I pushed on.

Sequencing is important to follow or I could damage the boat

When the captain came on board he started to explain how I needed to do certain thing in sequence otherwise I could do damage to the boat’s electronics. Here is a person who the day before had trouble using the remote for the TV. All of this makes me really question my abilities. Then there were the markers on the water I needed to follow.  I was a bit confused and concerned about doing the same as the captain when I was on my own. It did not help that most of the water in the area was low of 3.6 feet at mid tide.

There were some issues with the boat but think they could have been resolved.  But then again there were various markers that were being pointed out to me that I would need to remember later so I could navigate safely. In my mind I was wondering how I could possibly do that when I have so much difficulty remembering. Then as I looked around me on the open water I became panicky and scared as I just felt so overwhelmed that I was trying to hang on to a dream that I was no longer capable of doing. As much as I loved this boat and it was the best boat I had ever had for just one week. I had to finally come to the realization that my AD has made it impossible for me to do this safely.

I had such difficulty making decisions throughout all this time, and I believe my old self would have never even allowed me to spend so much money, but all of my executive functions seem to be a mess. I think the lesson to be learned here is that we must learn to simplify our lives, but that is easier said than done because I still want my boat. I realized deep down it has to be this way but it does not make it easier.


It’s times like this when I really hate this dam disease.

It has taken away all of my hobbies. So I guess that last boat did not count since I only kind of owned it for a week. This is just so hard for me to accept.

Here is a Dementia Chats Session when we talked about decision making and Michael shared with the group more details about deciding to purchase a boat or not.

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Dementia-Friendly Vision For State and National Implementation

Dementia-Friendly Vision

For State and National Implementation

By Michael Ellenbogen


For anyone who knows Michael Ellenbogen, this 51 page report will not surprise you one bit in terms of the detail and thought this man living with dementia has put into this paper.  Michael is one of the strongest voices and well connected to boot, of people living with dementia and trying to improve life for the next person diagnosed.  Michael was the first person diagnosed with dementia to speak to the World Health Organization last year.  Yet Michael will be the first to say, he is just one of many wonderful hard working people who is diagnosed with dementia trying to improve life for those living with the disease and those that care for them.

Given the length of the document I will not post it here, but instead give you a link to Read and Download It.

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments once you’ve had a chance to review it.  What do you agree or disagree with?  What else do you think is needed?  Talk to us and share your ideas with the world.

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Join Dementia Chats Tuesday Morning

Join Dementia Chats Tuesday Morning

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Dementia Chats™ was created with the intention to educate people living with dementia; their care partners both family and friends as well as professionals and advocates.  Our Experts are those diagnosed with dementia. We have been doing this series since July of 2012.  Learn more about Dementia Chats.

Join us and meet some of our experts:  Harry Urban, Paulan Gordon, Michael Ellenbogen, Truthful Loving Kindness, Laurie Scherrer, Robert Bowles, Faith Riverstone.

Join Our Next Live Session  Oct 27th, 2015

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11am EST, 10am CST, 9am MST, 8am PST and 4pm London time

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Important Announcement – Dementia Chats Webinars Changes Time

Important Announcement 

Dementia Chats Webinars Changes Time

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The 2nd and 4th Tuesday of Each Month NOW AT:

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Help Spread The Global Symbol For All Dementias – The Purple Angel Documentary

Purple Angel Documentary –

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Help Spread The Global Symbol For All Dementias

Learn about the documentary being filmed and how you can help.


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