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While the person with Alzheimer’s disease is still
For people who have been driving for many years, driving may feel mostly automatic. But driving is a complex task that requires quick reactions, thought processes and dexterity.
If you think the person with Alzheimer’s disease may be having difficulty driving, watch for these signs:
- Traffic violations
- Getting lost
- Misjudging distances
- Forgetting the rules of the road
- Slow response times
- Taking too long to reach a destination.
What you can do:
Plan ahead for the time when driving must stop. Talk with the person with Alzheimer’s disease to find out when driving is needed most and why. For example, is it for keeping medical appointments, shopping, entertainment, meeting with friends? Or is it perhaps more a form of escape or relaxation?
Once you’ve found out the person’s driving needs, talk about other ways of getting around. These can include:
- Public transit
- Rides provided by community organizations
- Lifts from family members and friends.
Look into special testing to assess the driving abilities of a person with dementia. This could be a driving simulation test and/or a road test, carried out by someone with experience in testing drivers with cognitive problems.
If this type of driving assessment is not available, ask a doctor to determine if and when the person is no longer able to drive. The doctor may ask the person and family members questions about:
- Driving patterns (when and where the person drives)
- Any differences noticed in driving skills
- Any unsafe or abnormal driving behaviour
- Traffic tickets (for going too slowly, too quickly, improper turns, failing to stop)
- Crashes, fender benders or near-misses
- Instances where the driver has been lost
- How comfortable the person or family members feel about the person’s driving abilities.
Throughout the disease, the person with dementia, family members and a doctor or other health care professional should monitor the person’s driving ability. When appropriate, the person should stop driving.
If you are the person with Alzheimer’s disease, here are some things to consider:
- Ask someone you know if he or she has noticed changes in your driving.
- Arrange for driver testing.
- Ask family members and friends to drive you where you need to go, or use public transit and take taxis.
Here are some tips to minimize the risks while the person with Alzheimer’s disease is still driving:
- Take short drives and keep to familiar roads.
- Drive at quiet times of the day.
- Be aware of the timing of medications that might affect the ability to think clearly or to see.