Many people with Alzheimer’s disease have questions about driving. Is it safe to drive? When should I stop driving? Unfortunately, no objective measure exists to answer these questions. Many people continue driving for quite a while after the diagnosis, while others stop right away.
Eventually, those with Alzheimer’s will have to stop driving, as Alzheimer’s disease affects the cognitive skills you need to drive safely, such as making decisions, reacting quickly and recognizing where you are. The side effects of treatment for Alzheimer’s may affect your alertness and other skills you need to drive.
Should You Give Up Your Driver’s License?
If you’re uncertain about whether you should give up your driver’s license, answer these questions:
- Do road signs, detours and other drivers’ actions confuse you?
- Do you become easily irritated when driving?
- Do you find driving stressful?
- Do you find that you forget where you are or where you’re going when you’re driving?
- Do you have trouble judging distances?
- Do you lack confidence in your driving abilities?
- Have you been in an accident recently?
- Have you committed one or more traffic violations recently?
- Have your family members or friends noticed changes in your driving abilities?
A “yes” answer to any of the above questions may be an indication that the time has come to stop driving. You should book a driver’s test to determine whether you can to continue to drive safely.
Alzheimer’s and Driving: The Issues
Giving up your driver’s license isn’t easy. Giving up the freedom of going where you want when you want is very difficult. You may feel guilty asking friends and relatives for a ride. Other challenges you must face may include:
- Being the only driver in the household
- Limited resources to pay for a taxi, public transportation or a driver
- No available adequate public transportation.
However, holding a driver’s license is not a right â€” it’s a privilege. When driving causes you to endanger your own safety or the safety of others, you must give up that privilege.
Alzheimer’s and Driving: What Family Members Must Consider
When parents or relatives give up their driver’s licenses, they may become depressed about their loss of independence. They may be more inclined to stay at home, unwilling to bother you with too many requests for a ride. If this is the case, you can demonstrate your willingness to be available to drive by making the first move and offering to drive them to appointments, the grocery store and social outings.
Alzheimer Society of Canada. (n.d.). Ethical guidelines: Driving. Retrieved June 22, 2010, from http://www.alzheimer.ca/english/care/ethics-driving.htm.
Alzheimer Society of Canada. (n.d.). Living with Alzheimer’s. Retrieved June 22, 2010, from http://www.alzheimer.ca/english/haveAD/livingwith-intro.htm.
Alzheimer’s Society (U.K.). (n.d.). Driving and dementia. Retrieved June 22, 2010, from http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?categoryID= 200195