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Dementia Caregiver Web Support


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Driving with Dementia

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One of the most devastating losses for a person with dementia is losing their independence.  Driving is a major form of independence.  Restricting this can be stressful for your loved one and yourself.  The following information includes suggestions to help you better understand the subject of driving with dementia.

When to Stop Driving

Some individuals with dementia use their own judgment and stop driving. Sometimes it is difficult to persuade your loved one to give up driving.  Your loved one’s physician may advise a person to stop driving based on a medical and neurological evaluation.  The person may become angry and place blame on the family.  The family can remind the individual that the doctor wants them to stop driving for their safety and the safety of others.

An individual who exhibits wandering behaviors should not have access to a vehicle.  People with severe memory problems have a greater chance of getting into accidents.  Any recommendations to stop driving extend to all motor vehicles (trucks, boats, lawnmowers, golf carts, etc).  

If you are concerned about your loved one’s driving abilities, talk to your healthcare professional.

Your healthcare professional may refer you to a certified driving rehabilitation specialist (CDRS) to assess their ability to drive safely. These specialists help people confirm safety when driving, help identify appropriate adaptive driving aids, and provide options for transporting mobility devices.

Don’t forget that driving is a sensitive issue for most people. It is likely that frequently you may have to gently remind your loved one that he or she can no longer drive.

Tips to Keep Your Loved One From Driving car keys on table

  • Put away or hide the keys
  • If your loved one insists on keeping the keys, file down the ignition key
  • Donate your loved one’s car to their favorite charity or a relative
  • In some extreme cases, it may be necessary to fix the car so it cannot start
  • Try enticing your loved one to stop driving by making it fun. You can try saying something like “Today it will be my pleasure to be your personal chauffer”
  • Ask the physician to inform your loved one that they will no longer be able to drive so they realize the importance of the request

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VA Resources

US Department of Veterans Affairs
VA values your commitment as a partner in our pledge to care for those who have "borne the battle." We have several support and service options designed with you in mind. The programs are available both in and out of your home to help you care for yourself and the Veteran you love.

Geriatrics and Extended Care Services (GEC) is committed to optimizing the health and well-being of Veterans with multiple chronic conditions, life-limiting illness, frailty or disability associated with chronic disease, agining or injury. This VA site reviews information on delirium, dementia and Alzheimer's care, decision making, home and community based services, and advance care planning, among many other important topics that may be important for you as a caregiver.

Veteran's Crisis Line Phone: 1-800-273-8255 (Veterans Press 1)

The VA does not endorse the following resources or guarantee that their information is 100% accurate.  However, you may be able to find some helpful information by visiting the following pages:

Alzheimer's Association: Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregiving Center
Find out more information on Driving Safety

Florida Senior Safety Resource Center
This site, developed by the University of Florida Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation, is designed to provide information and resources on alternative forms of transportation, driving knowledge and skills, and links to national organizations that address transportation issues.

University of Florida: Fitness to Drive Assessment
The following link is to a questionnaire that will assess your loved one’s fitness-to-drive.  You can complete it based on his or her difficulty with driving skills.  The measure was developed at the Institute for Mobility, Activity, and Participation at the University of Florida.  

References: Information adapted from Alzheimer’s Association and Florida Senior Safety Resource Center
If you have any questions or concerns, contact us.