If your loved one has dementia, deciding when they can no longer drive may be difficult. They may react in different ways.
People with signs of dementia should have regular driving tests. Even if they pass a driving test, they should be retested in 6 months.
If your loved one does not want you getting involved in their driving, get help from their health care provider, lawyer, or other family members.
Even before you see driving problems in someone with dementia, look for signs that the person may not be able to drive safely, such as:
Signs that driving may be getting more dangerous include:
It may help to set limits when driving problems start.
Caregivers should try to lessen the person's need to drive without making them feel isolated. Have someone deliver groceries, meals, or prescriptions to their home. Find a barber or hairdresser who will make home visits. Arrange for family and friends to visit and take them out for a few hours at a time.
Plan other ways to get your loved one to places where they need to go. Family members or friends, buses, taxis, and senior transportation services may be available.
As danger to others or to your loved one increases, you may need to prevent them from being able to use the car. Ways to do this include:
Budson AE, Solomon PR. Life adjustments for memory loss, Alzheimer's disease, and dementia. In: Budson AE, Solomon PR, eds. Memory Loss, Alzheimer's Disease, and Dementia: A Practical Guide for Clinicians. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 25.
Carr DB, O'Neill D. Mobility and safety issues in drivers with dementia. Int Psychogeriatr. 2015;27(10):1613-1622. PMID: 26111454 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26111454/.
National Institute on Aging. Driving Safety and Alzheimer's Disease. www.nia.nih.gov/health/driving-safety-and-alzheimers-disease. Updated April 8, 2020. Accessed April 25, 2020.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 4/25/2020
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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