If your loved one was recently diagnosed with dementia, you know that there are going to be many lifestyle changes in the coming months and years. Your loved one may eventually need a full-time caregiver and as a close family member, that caregiver may become you. Additionally, you will need to have some serious conversations about how major decisions will be made and what lifestyle modifications you can start to implement.
One of the lifestyle modifications that you will need to consider has to do with driving and transportation. As your loved one’s dementia progresses, he or she will become less reactive and his or her cognitive ability will decrease, making driving more and more difficult. Having the conversation about driving and dementia may not be easy, but it’s important.
Here are some tips on how to approach the issue of driving after your loved one is diagnosed with dementia.
Arrange Alternative Transportation
Depending on the stage that your loved one is experiencing his or her dementia, you may arrange for different types of alternative transportation. Enlist the help of close friends, neighbors, or other family member to help get your loved one to places they need to go. Consider having groceries and prescriptions delivered to the house so that your loved one doesn’t need to leave their home for those essentials. Ensure that he or she knows the exact route to nearby stores if they are in the early stages of the disease and are still able to walk without assistance.
Having an alternative transportation plan in place before you have the initial conversation about driving will save you a lot of time and help your loved one feel better about maintaining the ability to get things they need, and potentially even keep some of their freedoms for the time being.
When It’s Time for Them to Stop Driving
It’s important to initiate a dialogue with your loved one in a calm manner. Emphasize your unconditional love and support for them as they are going through a tough time health-wise but mention your concern for their safety and the safety of others on the road as well. Make sure that throughout the conversation, the focus is not on being accusatory, but rather more on overall concern and the responsibility we all have as drivers to be aware of safety on the roads.
If needed, have a doctor or trusted authority write a recommendation that your loved one cease to drive. It might help to have “back up” from another trusted source as you have the conversation.
What to Do if Your Loved One with Dementia Refuses to Stop Driving
Giving up the ability to drive one’s own car is a symbol of giving up personal freedom to many people. Your loved one may not want to give up their keys and agree to other types of transportation. In this case, you may have to be sterner with your request. Stress the responsibility aspect of the situation. Let them know that you care about them and that they have a responsibility to ensure their safety and others’ safety as well. Ask a family member or doctor to sit with you as you have the conversation and affirm your position.
As a last resort, take away your loved one’s keys or remove the car. This may be more difficult and cause some confusion or frustration, but you can continue to stress that their safety is a priority.
If your loved one is suffering from a disease such as dementia and needs around-the-clock care, contact us at 24/7 Nursing Care. We can provide caregiving services in the short term or long term depending on your individual needs.
Dementia & Driving Resource Center | Caregiver Center. (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2018, from https://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-and-driving.asp?WT.mc_id=enews2018_02_22&utm_source=enews-aff-33&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=enews-2018-02-22
Dementia and Driving. (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2018, from https://www.caregiver.org/dementia-driving