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Dementia and Driving

A dementia diagnosis brings with it many emotional concerns and a person’s continued ability to drive is often high on the list. Since individual dementia onset varies, it can be very difficult to determine exactly when an individual is no longer able to safely operate a motor vehicle. Whether your loved one is currently utilizing homecare, living alone or with family, the following information can help you recognize and cope with diminishing driving abilities caused by dementia.

The Decision

While a diagnosis of dementia does not necessarily mean that a person has lost the ability to drive, it is imperative to test driving skills immediately after a dementia diagnosis. From the point of diagnosis on, be sure to regularly evaluate day-to-day behavioral signs that could indicate unsafe driving practices. Key warning signs that driving has or will become too difficult a task include:

  • Loss of coordination
  • Difficulty judging distances
  • Disorientation, especially in familiar areas
  • Driving at unsafe speeds
  • Failing to observe traffic signals

Monitor the individual closely during normal driving to ensure that they consistently follow the rules of the road and don’t become overly nervous or irritated.  If any concerns exist, discuss them with the individual and with healthcare providers at either their facility or a top rated homecare provider.

The Transition

While some with dementia find driving stressful and are relieved to be urged to stop, it’s more likely they’ll feel hurt and sad. Listen, empathize, and encourage them to discuss their emotions: feeling validated and involved will make their adjustment easier. Start by limiting how often and where they drive (i.e. on familiar roads) and provide phone numbers for taxis and public transportation so they don’t feel isolated; encouraging friends and family to visit often can also reduce the frequency of driving. While considering having regular items like groceries and prescriptions delivered can’t be ruled out, it is seldom recommended having everything brought to the individual during this transition as it could lead to unnecessary confusion. Nightingale Homecare provides caregivers specially trained for caring for dementia patients, who are able to arrange or provide transportation to and from appointments, errands, and activities to reduce the isolation and helplessness felt by your loved one.

Here at Nightingale Homecare, we understand the sensitive and complex nature of dementia. Our specialized dementia program called “Connections”, offers innovative and respectful expert care to individuals and their families; our staff of top rated homecare providers is fully committed to the ongoing physical and mental functioning of clients with dementia. Learn more about our gentle, proven, and thoughtful approach to senior homecare in the Phoenix Metro area by calling (602) 504-1555 or contact us online.

This entry was posted on Friday, April 12th, 2013 at 6:17 pm.