Alzheimer’s Care: When Driving Becomes Dangerous

Posted: 8/18/2017 12:36 PM by Interim HealthCare
With the many changes taking place in your parent’s life, it is just one more difficult phase of the disease when it comes time for them to give up their driver’s license. But the time will come. The good news is that there are often a myriad of other transportation options and, in many cases, your parent will have been feeling uncomfortable behind the wheel and hesitated letting you know so as not to feel like a burden. Instead of feelings of lack and loss, they may often feel relief.

Know it’s Time
Have your parent drive every now and then so that you can assess their driving skills. Signs to watch out for include:
  • Slowing down to a crawl when navigating lane changes or coming onto the freeway.
  • Getting lost when driving to familiar places.
  • Getting the brake and gas pedals confused.
  • Showing increasing agitation.
In addition to driving with them, you may notice that their car has a number of new dents or scratches. Your parent may be taking much longer to get home from a simple and usually quick outing. This may be a sign that they are getting lost along the way.

Occupational Therapy Rehabilitation Specialist
If signs are evident, take them to an occupational therapy rehabilitation specialist. These types of therapists can determine if it is time for your parent to stop driving all together, or limit their driving to certain times of day, no freeways, or only so far from their home. They can also share strategies that can help your parent drive safely.

Transportation Options
Setting up options for providing your loved one with transportation will make the transition go much smoother. They may even come to enjoy the luxury of getting out without having to drive and the company that it affords. Many communities offer volunteer driving services for homebound seniors. Their local senior community center or Area Agency on Aging are great places to check for these types of services. Another system that works well is setting up a driving schedule and asking for volunteers. Cast your net wide to include neighbors and community members. You will be surprised just how many people are willing to lend a helping hand and are only waiting to be asked. The public transportation system can be confusing to someone with Alzheimer’s and is often not recommended as the disease progresses.

Home Care Provider
A home care provider can also provide transportation as well as assist with the daily activities of living. In addition, they can do the grocery shopping and run other errands, returning home to prepare and share meals, providing the companionship so important to someone going through the effects of Alzheimer’s.

More information about Alzheimer's