My family and most of my friends instinctively sense when an elderly person becomes a danger to himself and others on the road. Little dents and scrapes accumulate on Mom or Dad's car. When we ride with them, we find ourselves cringing a lot or being relied on to copilot before every turn. "Any cars coming from the right?" Maybe we hear them tell of frequent close calls. Reaction times naturally slow as we age, but additional signs might be present if your parent has dementia. I thought that instead of living with vague worries, it might be helpful to have some concrete signs to look for.
Determining when someone can no longer safely drive requires careful observation by family and caregivers. The following list provides warning signs that it's time to stop driving:
Forgetting how to locate familiar places
Failing to observe traffic signs
Making slow or poor decisions in traffic
Confusing the brake and gas pedal
Returning from a routine drive later than usual
Forgetting the destination you are driving to during the trip
For more information on this issue, visit our Dementia & Driving Resource Center at alz.org/driving.
The next obvious question is how to take away the keys. "Let the doctor tell them" is my easy-way-out answer. At the link above, you braver caregivers will find tips under "Having the conversation." Have you had success with other methods of breaking the news?