Dementia, Driving Skills & Safety
Peace of Mind from Our In-Home Care Team
When your loved one is living with dementia, it is important to recognize that their decline will inevitably impact driving skills and safety. If possible, it’s best to consider alternatives and have a conversation about relinquishing privileges early-on in the diagnosis, so that you and your loved one have time to come to terms with the impending loss of independence.
Keeping Your Safety in Mind
At Homewatch CareGivers®, our care teams are aware that memory impairment
can impact your loved one’s ability drive. They may fail to recognize
traffic signs and signals, drive too fast or too slow, or become confused
while driving. As memory impairment worsens and dementia progresses, the
senses are also affected. Visual agnosia, caused by changes in the brain,
may impair the ability to comprehend visual images, although there is
nothing physically wrong with the eyes. Also, their sense of perception
and depth may be altered. These changes will cause safety concerns, especially
when it comes to driving.
The Alzheimer’s Association offers the following signs of unsafe driving as evidence your loved one may need to consider staying off the road:
- Forgetting how to locate familiar places
- Failing to observe traffic signs and signals
- Making slow or poor decisions in traffic
- Driving at an inappropriate speed
- Becoming angry or confused when driving
Ways to Help You Cope
Losing driving privileges is a huge loss of independence and will inevitably be an emotional struggle for all parties involved. If diagnosed early enough, families should initiate a conversation with their memory-impaired loved one about driving abilities. If the person living with dementia is on board with maintaining his or her safety—along with the safety of others on the road—he or she will be more likely to accept the revocation of driving privileges. When this time comes, families should offer alternatives, such as helping with transportation for errands and doctor’s appointments or offering public transportation as an option. Homewatch CareGivers also offers transportation assistance—help from a person outside of the family may be more easily accepted by your loved one. In the event that your loved one becomes angry or combative during this process, remember the 5 R’s.
Contact us today for more information about our advice regarding driving skills and safety for those with dementia.