Due to the progressive nature of Alzheimer’s, every person with the disease will eventually become unable to drive. Some people are able to continue driving in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, but it requires ongoing evaluation to ensure safety.
As hard as it is for people living with Alzheimer’s to give up driving, addressing the topic is often just as hard on caregivers. In response to this delicate topic and lack of resources to address it, the Alzheimer’s Association, with support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, created a new Dementia and Driving Resource Center (DDRC) located online at alz.org/driving.
The DDRC was designed to inform and support the needs of both caregivers and people living with dementia in a compassionate manner. The site features four short videos depicting different scenarios for approaching driving and dementia. In addition, the DDRC has tips and strategies for planning ahead and handling resistance, common signs of unsafe driving, resources for alternative methods of transportation and additional information on driving and safety.
The Alzheimer’s Association recommends that families discuss driving, ideally while the person with Alzheimer’s is still able to participate in the conversation and decision-making process. The following are signs that it may be time for the person with dementia to stop driving:
- Forgetting how to locate familiar places
- Failing to observe traffic signs
- Making slow or poor decisions in traffic
- Driving at an inappropriate speed
- Becoming angry or confused while driving
- Hitting curbs
- Using poor lane control
- Making errors at intersections
- Confusing the brake and gas pedals
- Returning from a routine drive later than usual
- Forgetting the destination you are driving to during the trip