Although dementia is a serious and impacting illness upon all people affected, but by itself, dementia does not harmfully influence people’s driving skills until extremely later stages. That’s why dementia and driving are not mutually exclusive terms. If an individual who has dementia has been deemed as legally capable of driving by the state, and is recognised as being able to safely drive without harming those around them, then driving is still well within the realms of safety.

However, it is extremely important to note that over time as dementia begins to develop into its much stronger and harsher stages. It is at this time that all victims of dementia will slowly become unable to drive at all. This is why it is of the utmost importance to continuously regulate and test dementia sufferers to analyse when will be the best time to stop driving.

Learn when to stop

Perhaps the most important decision to make when it comes to dementia and driving is deciding when it is time to stop driving. In any case, any victim of dementia in the early or mild stages of dementia must be evaluated immediately if they wish to continue driving. Any victims who have seen their dementia progress into the moderate or severe stages, whereby their cognitive skills have sufficiently worsened, should not drive at all.

Behavioral indications

As dementia is volatile in nature, it can be difficult to assess a victim of dementia’s developments. As such, it can therefore be difficult to understand when a victim is no longer capable of driving. A person’s individual cognitive functioning can be determined by the following behavioral indicators:

  • Progressively less coordinated
  • Experiencing problems in judging distance
  • Experiencing problems when information processing
  • Experiencing decision making problems
  • Increased memory loss
  • Experiencing multi-tasking problems
  • They are become disorientated or lost in what were familiar places

Always monitor their driving

It is important to recognise that dementia can deteriorate cognitive functioning by an extreme degree in a very short period of time. This means that even if the person you may know that can still drive very safely, in no time they may be completely unable to drive at all. It is important to narrow down and determine the period in-between and stop them driving before a problem can ever occur. In order to prevent any lives being taken for both the driver and others on the road, it must be noted that if there are ever any doubts about the person driving, they should halt driving immediately. There a few behaviors consistent with an inability to drive that should be constantly monitored:

  • They’ve begun to drive too slowly
  • They stop in traffic or ignore signs without reason
  • They become lost in a once familiar road
  • They lack proper judgment
  • They have difficulty performing normal road techniques
  • They are signaling incorrectly

Have a plan if they insist on driving

To many, driving symbolises and feels like freedom to them. To lose their driving skills to dementia will feel like a loss of that freedom. They will be unable to recognise when their cognitive functioning deteriorates or in some cases, insist they are able to drive even when they are not. It is important that should this ever happen, families and caregivers will prevent them from driving by:

  • Disabling the car
  • Selling the car
  • Replacing the car keys
  • Moving the car out of the victim’s sight
  • Hiding the car keys out of their sight