By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s one of the most difficult decisions a family with a loved one with memory loss makes: when to take the keys away.

WCCO has been documenting retired family doctor Paul Quinn’s diagnosis for the last four years.  During our last visit, Liz Collin was there to see the shift in Paul that left his family little choice.

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Just as they have for years, they escaped most of the Minnesota winter in Florida.

“There was a big change,” Peg Quinn said.

Only this time, there were very few beach walks Paul would take alone and his participation in group conversations all but stopped.

However, Peg admits the biggest turn happened behind the wheel.

“It felt like he wasn’t really as safe of driver as he had been,” she said.

We’ve been there to see Paul navigate roads around their home in Stillwater without any problems before.  He impressed even his driving specialist last summer when his family first tested his skills.

So, when in the last few months Peg noticed he was easily distracted on the road and slower to make decisions, Paul took the test again in April.

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“We didn’t do the behind-the-wheel this time because there was a significant change in the cognitive stuff, and they recommended that he not drive anymore,” Peg said.

Still, he has to be reminded of that a few times every day.

“Am I driving? I’m driving some. No, apparently I’m not driving,” Paul Quinn questioned.

“See what I mean, he doesn’t remember? He doesn’t remember anything, Liz. I have the keys,” Peg commented. “Anyone can imagine one of the things we all love is just to be able to go out when we want, where we want, on our own terms and to suddenly be dependent on others.”

The change is no doubt the hardest on Peg, who admits she still struggles accepting support.

“I’m wobbling along that path with difficulty but very aware I need to open up to more help,” she said.

While her husband approaches his future with his usual pragmatism.

“You just have to learn to adjust to a different life style,” Paul Quinn said.

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A now 80-year-old retired doctor and navy admiral approaching a cruel reality with candor and the palpable admiration of a devoted family.

Liz Collin