Alzheimer’s can affect driving ability in a number of ways including:
- Finding your way around
- Remembering which way to turn
- Judging distance from other cars and objects
- Judging speed of other cars
- Reaction time
- Hand-eye coordination
The issues of driving ability and safety can be very difficult ones, both practically and emotionally, for people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and their families. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s does not necessarily mean that a person must cease driving immediately. However, any changes in a persons ability to drive will indicate a need for this to be considered.
Most of us are unaware of just how complicated a process driving is. We simply take the activity for granted. Alzheimer’s can cause loss of memory, limited concentration, loss of sight, and a range of other problems. This will eventually affect a persons ability to drive safely. Some people may recognize their declining abilities, others may not. Doctors will often recommend that a person should stop driving or they may refuse to approve a driver’s license renewal, particularly if they have been alerted to any problems.
If there is any doubt about the abilities of the person, it is possible to have an objective assessment of a persons driving. This test will assess an individuals driving ability and whether it is appropriate that they continue to do so.
If you have any concerns about a persons driving, the best way to proceed is to talk to them openly about the situation, consult with their doctor, and consider the need for an assessment. If the person refuses to heed the advice, then you should may contact the traffic authority in your area, and they will be able to advise you of further steps that can be taken.
It is important to remember that any decision that results in a persons loss of license is made solely for safety reasons – the drivers safety and the safety of others. Eventually, Alzheimer’s will affect a person’s ability to drive. Some people decide to voluntarily relinquish their license. Doctors will sometimes recommend a person stop driving.
Some people find giving up driving one of the hardest things to do. Your car may be an important part of your independence and without it your life may change. As a result, you may feel angry, frustrated or upset about this change. Talking about these feelings, or asking a trusted family member, friend or counselor for information, may help.
If the decision is made that a person can no longer drive then it is essential to explore other means of transport. These can include: public transport buses, trains, trams, and so on ,utilizing friends or family for rides, walking, and taxis.
Remember, there are benefits in no longer driving. The alternatives may be less stressful than driving, the costs of the alternative transport is usually less than running a car, and the scenery can be enjoyed along the way.