Memory loss and driving

Dementia and driving is one of the most difficult challenges that family caregivers face. What do you do when your loved one with dementia insists that they are still good and careful drivers, and that they can drive by themselves? It is physiologically straining to the caregiver when your loved one living with dementia drives by him/herself unaccompanied. Will they get lost or have an accident? These are the questions that you will always have.
Alzheimer’s and other dementias tend to be slow and progressive, and in the early stages the person begins to loss skills and judgement but they might have adequate driving skills.
As dementia progress, the person gets problems with:
1. Eye sight and this makes it difficult for them to drive at night and in terrible weather.
2. Memory loss the person may get lost or even forget where the brake pedals are.
3. Reasoning and problem solving The person may not be able to understand the signage like stop, turning
4. Fatigue at times they may fall asleep.
When these factors occur driving becomes a danger to the society and the person themselves.
The following tips would be helpful
1. Share your concerns and worries with the person directly.
2. Your loved one may be worried about losing his/her independence, offer alternative solutions like a taxi or public means
3. Encourage the person to quit driving as it’s the doctor’s advice in a calm way.
4. When choosing a caregiver, look for someone with a valid driver’s license.
5. When the person becomes confused drastic steps may be required, like hiding the keys, disabling the car or even selling it.