Friday, June 4, 2010

Driving & Alzheimer's

Good information...and by the way, our driving is very limited now and only when I am in the car with him. He has actually done this voluntarily. WOW. He does drive the golf cart and right now is fine with that. Below you will find information I jacked from the Alzheimer's Association website.

Driving demands good judgment, quick reaction times and split-second decision making. A diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease alone is not a reason to take away driving privileges. But due to the progressive nature of Alzheimer's, a person with the disease will eventually be unable to drive.

It's often difficult to decide when to stop or limit driving. To help make this decision, get a driving evaluation from a certified professional. Contact the Alzheimer's Association (800.272.3900) for referrals to organizations in your community that can perform these evaluations.

Ideally, families should talk openly about driving soon after a diagnosis. They should make plans for how the person will get around when he or she can no longer drive.
Signs of unsafe driving
The following behaviors may be signs that it is time to stop driving:
  • Forgetting how to locate familiar places
  • Failing to observe traffic signals
  • Making slow or poor decisions
  • Driving at inappropriate speeds
  • Becoming angry and confused while driving
  • Hitting curbs
  • Using poor lane control
  • Making errors at intersections
  • Confusing the brake and gas pedals
  • Returning from a routine drive later than usual. The person may be wandering and getting lost in the car. Consider enrolling the person in MedicAlert + Safe Return.
Steps to take if the person won't give up the keys
Losing the independence driving provides can be upsetting, and it may be hard to give up the car keys. If the person with dementia insists on driving, caregivers, friends or family members may need to take extra steps, including:
  • Encourage law enforcement to issue a citation.
  • Ask a doctor to write the person a "do not drive" prescription.
  • Control access to the car keys.
  • Disable the car by removing the distributor cap or the battery.
  • Keep the car out of sight. Seeing the car may act like a visual cue to drive.
  • Assure the person that a ride will be available if he or she needs to go somewhere. Have a list of contacts who can provide transportation, such as family members, friends, taxis or community transportation services.
  • Have prescription medicines, groceries or meals delivered, reducing the person's need to drive.
  • Have the person tested by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Learn about your state's driving regulations
In some states, such as California, the physician must report a diagnosis of Alzheimer's to the health department, which then reports it to the department of motor vehicles. That agency then may revoke the person's license. Check with your local Alzheimer's Association for information on driving regulations in your state.

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