When is it no longer safe to drive?
For the vast majority of us driving is considered to be an essential aspect of our independence and personal well-being. It allows us to feel connected to the outside world through mobility and social connection. Driving is how we see the people we want to see and do the things we want to do at our own convenience. It means we do not have to walk, wait out in the hot sun for a bus wait for someone to pick us up. If you or a loved one are noticing some of the following warning signs it is very important to speak to your healthcare professional and ask for a referral to a Driving Specialist.
Common warning signs include:
- Forgetting the destination or how to get to familiar places
- Failing to notice traffic signs or making mistakes at intersections
- Making slow or poor decisions in traffic
- Driving too slow (or too fast) or not maintaining lanes
- Becoming confused or angry while driving
Talking to your loved one about driving
- Be patient. Know that there may be resistance and that there will likely be many more conversations about driving.
- Be understanding. Know that if the person is angry with you, the
anger is likely due to their cognitive impairment or dementia.
- Be empathetic and acknowledge the person’s feelings and sense of
- Stress the positive and offer other methods to get around and keep
- Remind the person of their responsibility to keep themselves and others safe.
- Enlist an objective third party such as a physician or a Driver Specialist to help convince the person. A driving evaluation and “no driving” directive helps to alleviate personal blame and guilt.
- Enlist other people who are well-respected by the driver to convey the same message about not driving.
- Be prepared for the conversation to not go well, since brain disease impairs judgment.
- Be firm. Take away the car keys, or disable or remove the car if necessary.
To learn more about safety and wellness visit the UT Health San Antonio Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s & Neurodegenerative Diseases.