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Driving & Dementia: A Difficult Conversation

When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia it changes everything. Suddenly you and your family members are faced with a lot of uncertainty and impending challenges that you probably never anticipated facing. It’s difficult to watch someone you love begin to struggle and of course you want to help to improve their lives and situations all that you can.

One common struggle that many Alzheimer’s patients and their family members face is deciding the right time for the person to discontinue driving. This can be a difficult transition to make because a person’s ability to drive is closely tied to their independence. However, being a safe driver requires quick reaction time, and for a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia driving can quickly become a dangerous task for the loved one.

Here are some signs to look for when you’re trying to decide if it’s time for you to help your loved one discontinue their driving time:

When driving does he or she

  • Fails to observe traffic signs and/or signals
  • Makees slow or poor decisions in traffic
  • Becomes angry or confused while driving
  • Forgets the destination of the trip while driving
  • Makes errors in speed, direction, and at intersections[1]

While having this conversation with your loved one may be a difficult thing to do, it is important and best done soon after diagnosis in order to help ease the process.

When it comes time to have the conversation, take these tips into consideration:

  • Be firm and direct in the conversation and reassure them of your love and concern.
  • Don’t be surprised if your loved one becomes upset and try not to take it personally. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia alter personality and demeanor, even in situations where you are trying to help.
  • Consider bringing in an understanding friend, relative, or family physician to participate in the conversation.
  • Plan ahead and consider alternative transportation options in order to make the transition as easy and seamless as possible.

At SYNERGY HomeCare we understand that this can be a difficult time in the lives of you and your loved ones and we’d like to be there to help you through it. Our caregivers are specially trained to help with your family needs, offering extensive care and support that even includes incidental transportation. If the removal of transportation for your loved one becomes stressful, our caregivers can do such things as help run errands and provide transportation to doctors appointments. To see how we can further help during this transitional time please check out our otherCompanionship and Memory Care Services.


[1] © 2012  Alzheimer’s Association®

 

Contributor: Chantel Heister

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