Alzheimer’s and Driving

Alzheimer’s and Driving

Alzheimer’s and Driving

If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, you may eventually have to face a difficult question: Deciding when your loved one should stop driving. It is a difficult questions to ask because driving for oneself is often seen as a right and privilege people have in countries like the U.S, especially since driving is an activity associated with independence. As a result, many families might delay making this decision until an accident happens or their loved one gets lost. But you should not wait until this happens. Making this decision is crucial for the continued safety of your loved one and for citizens of the surrounding community.[1]

There are certain signs to look out for that indicate your aging loved one is no longer fit to drive. The signs can include:

  • Getting into minor accidents
  • Being unable to maintain an appropriate speed limit
  • Ignoring traffic signals
  • Being unable to stay consistently within their lane
  • Confusing the brake and gas pedals
  • Hitting curbs
  • Expressing frustration or confusion when driving

Sometimes, it can be hard to tell whether or not your loved one is able to drive. Instead of waiting until things get worse, have your loved one evaluated by a driving specialist after consulting with an occupational therapist.[2]  Another option is to consult with a physician about the matter.

Talking with Your Loved One

A potential challenge you may run into is determining how to address the matter with your loved one. As mentioned above, many people attach a sense of independence to their ability to drive. Telling your loved one that he or she should stop can be a difficult conversation. Here are some solutions to this difficulty and communication tips:

  • Be sympathetic with them if they express sadness or disapproval about the matter
  • Research different means of transportation in your area. Having a list of alternative methods of transportation lets your loved one know that they will not be stranded.
  • Show support
  • Remain calm and calmly explain the safety reasons that go into this difficult decision
  • If it is possible, become involved in planning your loved one’s routine visits to the store, pharmacy, etc.
  • Remind them of the benefits of not driving like less money spent on gas, insurance, etc.[3]

If you have any questions, feel free to call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website.

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