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Alzheimer's: When to stop driving
How to ease the transition
When your loved one stops driving, arrange for alternative transportation. Perhaps family members and friends can run errands with your loved one, or you can arrange transportation through a senior van route. You may be able to establish a payment account with a taxi service so that your loved one can go places but won't have to handle money.
Also consider ways to limit your loved one's need to drive. Many items — such as groceries, meals and prescriptions — can be delivered to your loved one's home. Some barbers and hairdressers make house calls as well.
Remain firm as the disease progresses
If your loved one wants to continue driving despite the hazards — or begin driving again after a period off the road — consider these strategies to keep him or her out of the driver's seat:
- Get a note from the doctor. Sometimes it helps if an authority figure — physician, lawyer, insurance agent — tells your loved one to stop driving. Having something in writing can be a useful reminder.
- Keep keys out of sight. Park the vehicle around the corner or in a closed garage, and don't keep keys in plain sight. If your loved one insists on carrying a set of keys, offer old keys that won't start the vehicle.
- Disable the vehicle. Remove a battery cable to prevent the car from starting, or ask a mechanic to install a "kill switch" that must be engaged before the car will start.
- Sell the vehicle. If you can make do without your loved one's vehicle, consider selling it.
Whether your loved one stops driving all at once or in stages, he or she will probably grieve the loss of independence. Be as patient as you can, but remember to stand firm. The consequences of unsafe driving can be devastating.Previous page
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- Martin AJ, et al. Driving assessment for maintaining mobility and safety in drivers with dementia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2009:CD006222. http://www2.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab006222.html. Accessed May 6, 2010.
- Snyder CH. Dementia and driving: Autonomy versus safety. Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. 2005;17:393.
- Ott BR, et al. A longitudinal study of drivers with Alzheimer disease. Neurology. 2008;70:1171.
- Iverson DJ, et al. Practice parameter update: Evaluation and management of driving risk in dementia. Neurology. 2010;74:1316.