Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dementia and Driving – Deciding When to Stop

You may be facing or will soon be facing the tough decision of taking away the keys from a loved one. The Hartford shared this informative article on deciding when to stop driving once dementia starts to set in. 

In the early stages of dementia, many people usually are still socially engaged and able to manage daily activities, including safe driving. But, all people with irreversible dementia will eventually become unsafe to drive because of the degenerative, progressive nature of the brain disease. Most information about dementia warns against driving, but doesn't help families determine how to help the driver make that very important, and sometimes very emotional, transition to passenger. 

Those who have a loved one with dementia struggle with a number of caregiving challenges from medical and daily care to financial and legal matters. Driving can be an immediate and life-threatening issue–making it a family priority. A diagnosis alone may not be sufficient reason for a person to stop driving, but when it's clearly no longer safe for the person to drive, caregivers must take action.  

What Can Families Do?
  1. Each family must select strategies that will work for its unique situation. There is no easy answer, no right way.
  2. Asking a person to stop driving can be a delicate, highly emotional matter. Begin discussions and planning early, and involve the person with dementia. Open, early and continual communication can help the person with dementia and the family to agree on a course of action before a crisis occurs.
  3. Base decisions on driving behavior observed over a period of time. Regular monitoring and assessment of driving can help caregivers respond appropriately.
  4. Get support when making and implementing decisions about driving. Doctors, occupational therapists, lawyers, care managers, financial planners and local Alzheimer's support groups can provide information and perspective to reinforce the family's efforts, helping to ensure that the emotional, social and transportation needs of the person with dementia are met.


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