One of the first reactions people have when an aging parent or even a spouse has been diagnosed with dementia is to focus on safety. It might seem prudent for some to give up their license to drive, but are they really unsafe behind the wheel? Dementia, which includes Alzheimer’s, is a progressive disease that affects the brain. The earliest signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s, for example, are memory loss that begin to impact daily life.
Does this mean they are immediately unsafe behind the wheel?
That’s not necessarily the case, but it could be. Everyone’s situation is different and just like one 16-year-old could be completely safe, diligent, and focused whenever they are driving, another could be so immature that they put themselves and everyone else out on the roads, including pedestrians, at risk.
Avoid knee-jerk reactions.
It may be completely necessary to ask this senior to stop driving, but it also may be a bit premature. Many people, especially in the United States, associate driving with independence. When they have to give up their license to drive or no longer feel safe behind the wheel, they may feel a significant loss of that independence. A person who has recently been diagnosed with dementia may be having a difficult time dealing with this situation and forcing them to stop driving, even though they are still safe behind the wheel, could push them to a point of anxiety and extreme stress, frustration, or even outright anger.
How can you tell?
Encourage this elderly man or woman to contact their local DMV and inform them about this diagnosis. Each state operates its Department of Motor Vehicles a bit differently and may have specific requirements in place to test elderly men and women to determine their ability to be safe when driving. They might require this person to come in and take another specialized driving test. If it is determined they are still safe, they may have to take this test frequently, such as every year.
At some point it will likely be necessary for them to stop driving, either by their own admission and choice or the state’s. Until that time comes, though, just because they are dealing with the effect of memory loss that is making daily life a bit more challenging doesn’t necessarily mean they are not safe when out driving. Give this person the respect he or she deserves and encourage them to contact their local DMV to determine the appropriate next steps.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Alzheimer’s care in Rockwell, NC, contact the caring professionals at TenderHearted Home Care today. Call us at 704-612-4132
I have enjoyed volunteering my time as the President of the Rowan County Home School Association, assisting with the Parkinson’s Support Group, Walk to End Alzheimer’s, Pregnancy Support Center, MOPS International, Capstone Recovery Center, Kairos Outside, Celebrate Recovery, various church committees and going on a mission trip to Moldova. I am a member of the Rowan County Council on Aging, Meals on Wheels board member, REACH of Rowan County, HIPSS of Davidson County, Second Tuesday Business Group and several Christian Business Life Groups.
I am passionate about serving others and providing the most compassionate care possible, as I would want for my own family. I love relaxing with my husband, Peter, and my two dogs, Yoyo and Terra Cotta.
Latest posts by Renee Gray (see all)
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