Dementia and Driving
Dementia is a progressive neurological condition which affects the way a person thinks and behaves.
A diagnosis of Dementia does not automatically result in driving cessation, however because the nature of the medical condition is progressive over time, there will likely be a point when the person will be unsafe to drive.
A comprehensive Cognitive assessment is administered to the client which focuses on the person’s attention, concentration, insight, judgement, memory, problem solving and visuospatial skills
At modified driving solutions we administer the Drive Safe Drive Aware screening tool (DSDA). Tests such as the DSDA can be used to advise clients in moderate to severe stages of the disease that it is no longer safe for them to drive. However if there is any ambiguity in the off road cognitive assessment, further on road testing is required.
On Road Assessment
The On road Assesmment
Although it is impossible to standardise an On road assessment there are key driving behaviours our Occupational Therapists observe when conducting an assessment. These include:
- Speed Control
- Planning and Judgement
- Vehicle positioning
- Reaction time and physical control
On Road Assessment and dementia
Although dementia affects people in different ways there are common symptoms which prevail which pose a risk to themselves and the wider community when they drive. These symptoms are as followed:
- Memory loss
- Gradual impairment in automatic responses (e.g. increased confusion at roundabouts)
- Impaired speed of information processing resulting in driving at 10-15 km/hr below the speed limit
- Difficulty switching attention with selective attention
- Reduced visuospatial awareness e.g difficulty judging safe gaps in traffic, poor road position
- Reduced visual fields
- Difficulty making decisions in complex traffic conditions
- Inability to recognise familiar environments.