Preventing Those with Dementia from Getting Lost Tip #5: Assess Whether Driving is Safe
Many people drive for a while after a dementia diagnosis - my Dad drove for probably 3-4 years after very early diagnosis and starting treatment even before we knew it, his doctor was on it. Here are a few things to keep in mind around keeping your loved ones from getting lost and/or hurt due to driving:
If your loved ones are still driving, be sure to constantly monitor their judgment, vision and visual processing, safety, and driving/navigating skills. They may be able to operate the car safely, but unable to find their way around. It's a good idea to have a GPS tracker in the car so you can always find them. Even if you think your loved one is still fine to drive and won't get lost doing errands close to home - or if you don’t think there’s a chance they could get in the car and drive at all - it’s a good idea to put a GPS tracker in the car.
Review AARP's We Need to Talk online seminar about discussing hanging up the keys with loved ones. You can also confer with their doctor.
Be mindful that your loved ones know that when they stop driving their independence is threatened. They may fear isolation, so be sure to tell them about alternativetransportation optionsand assist them with coordinating rides.
Some caregivers must hide the car keys or remove the car from the home to prevent their loved ones who have dementia from driving. Reasoning with them may be futile due to the cognitive disability. I know one caregiver who asked the doctor to write a prescription for her mother that said "do not drive for now". She put it on the refrigerator and always pointed her mother to it when she wanted to drive. The "for now" part made it much easier for her mother to get used to.
I hope these thoughts are helpful to you as you keep your loved ones safe!
I want to add that as we age, whether afflicted by any memory compromising disease or not, some of our other senses may change, and can effect our driving skills.
One of the hardest choices for me was giving up driving, but a person my age caused a deadly vehicle accident and I compared my driving skill-set with the necessary skill-set and realized I should no longer drive... car donated (added plus no more auto insurance payments), planned shopping with rideshares, and learning transit systems. Actually not too bad based on plus/minus columns.
I hope everyone can have honest conversation with themselves about this before it becomes time to quit driving. I don't know but believe many, many lives will be saved, including our own.
Thank you for reading!
#VegasStrong Phil Harris, actor and showman, to John Fogerty of CCR: “If I’d known I’d live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”
@WebWiseWoman You are INDEED a wise woman! (love your handle!) Truly. So wonderful that you objectively looked at your own skills and chose to stop driving. And also excellent that you have found alternate transportation (and learning new things is good for your brain too!). Thank you so much for sharing your experience - I think it will help many people to be honest with themselves and explore new ways to get around!