When Is It No Longer Safe to Drive for Those with Alzheimer’s or Dementia?

By Ruth Hoffmann posted 05-19-2020 09:17


As we move towards a future of driverless cars, it’s important to pay attention to the various transitional issues that come up along the way. There’s still a major problem on the horizon for people with certain mental conditions, for example, and it’s crucial that we treat those cases properly if we want to progress as a whole. Alzheimer’s and dementia are still serious conditions that can impair a person’s ability to operate complex machinery significantly, and there are many reasons why a person with those problems should never get behind the wheel of a car. And if you suspect that someone close to you might be going through that, it’s very important that you pay attention to that person and do your best to support them through that.

Safety Should Be a Top Priority

Of course, the top priority in this situation should be safety – that of the person driving, and everyone else’s. It’s unfortunate that sometimes people in these situations don’t realize the extent of the trouble they’re causing, and they continue to insist on driving out of stubbornness. It’s important to approach this kind of situation gently and with the right attitude, but more on that below. In the end, it’s possible that the person isn’t actually posing any significant danger to others with the way they are currently driving. Assessing this should be one of the first things you do in order to ensure that you are moving in the right direction.

Looking for Signs

You should also know what signs to look out for when trying to protect someone with dementia from getting behind the wheel. The condition can be difficult to pinpoint initially, especially if you’re dealing with someone who’s typically more stubborn and might not be willing to admit that they are affected. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to certain signs. For example, scratches on the car appearing on a regular basis that can’t be easily explained – this is something that many people observe in their relatives going through dementia. Another common sign is when the car is being taken out for drives regularly, but the person can’t seem to explain where they were going. If this doesn’t match their typical schedule, something might be amiss here. It’s up to you to know your family members and close friends well enough to be able to tell when they’re dealing with something like this.

Approaching the Situation Gently

As we said above, knowing how to have a gentle approach to this is going to be crucial if you want to get the problem resolved without any issues. Be prepared to face some backlash when you try to explain the problem to the person that’s going through it, and it’s a good idea to have your facts ready and prepared in advance in order to address the situation as best as you can. Try to be reasonable, and don’t get emotions get in the way of the conversation, even though it’s obviously a charged issue.

You’re Not Alone

Another point to consider is that you’re never alone in dealing with something like this. Many people around the world have to go through similar problems, and it’s a good idea to reach out for a support network if you’re feeling lost. The same goes for the person who’s actually going through the condition – make sure to explain to them that they are not alone in this, and that they have a good support network they can rely on in case they need it.

The Importance of a Good Fallback System

All that said, driving is also something that you can’t really rip out of someone’s life without any immediate repercussions. It’s an important part of the daily routine of many people, and it’s understandable why someone might be upset when you try to limit their ability to drive, even if they objectively shouldn’t be getting behind the wheel. This makes it important to have a good system to fall back on in case it comes to that. The person being affected by this must be helped to retain control over their life as best as possible, and this includes helping them compensate for their inability to drive in the future. This might put a significant burden on you, which is unfortunate, but there’s no real way around that. If you don’t do this, you will likely see a lot of issues on this front in the future.

What the Future Might Hold

There are some things that might alleviate the situation though. Self-driving cars are going through major developments right now, and it’s not unreasonable to expect that they will be the next big thing on the horizon of driving in the near future. It will likely take quite a while until the technology is truly there though, so it’s important to have reasonable expectations for it. Don’t assume that driving will be safe for everyone too soon, because it will likely take a while for us to get there.

Why This Is Even More Important Right Now

And in the end, we’re all going through a major situation right now, one that really doesn’t have a recent precedent and is important to be approached carefully. Everyone is on edge, and it’s the worst possible time to be causing extra issues on the road. Especially with regards to the healthcare system – you don’t want to contribute to overloading it, which is one of the biggest issues in the picture right now.

Proper communication and the right approach can make all the difference when it comes to dealing with someone who is developing Alzheimer’s or dementia, and insists on driving. It won’t be an easy battle, and you should prepare to deal with quite a lot of problems. But in the end, this is about the safety of many people, not just your loved ones but everyone else around them as well, and it’s not something you can take it easy with.

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