Driving: How to Know When It’s Time to Stop

November 22nd, 2011

Being able to drive is a source of pride for most individuals. It means they are independent and can travel where they want, when they want. However, operating a vehicle requires focus and quick reaction time, which naturally tend to diminish with age. For a person with Alzheimer’s disease, however, these vital abilities decrease at an accelerated rate, making it more difficult to know exactly when the individual should stop driving.

Because Alzheimer’s robs people of their short-term memory, it can be easy to get lost while driving, and the geospatial issues that the disease also causes can make it difficult to judge distances or predict upcoming traffic issues. These deficiencies can lead to life-threatening accidents.

When it’s time to stop

Reasoning skills are also affected by Alzheimer’s disease, so often the person will resist requests to stop driving. The responsibility really lies with the family members or caregiver to decide when the person is unsafe behind the wheel. Some warning signs of unsafe driving include:

  • Forgetting how to locate familiar places
  • Difficulty seeing things on the road
  • Running through stop signs
  • Making slow or poor decisions
  • Hitting the curb while driving
  • Confusing the brake and gas pedal
  • Becoming angry, frustrated, anxious or confused while driving
  • Difficulty keeping the car in the center of the lane
  • A series of close calls or collisions, even if minor

The decision to tell a loved one that he or she is unsafe behind the wheel is a difficult one to make, but could save lives. Luckily, home care agencies, like Visiting Angels in the San Francisco Bay area, are always available for transportation needs and other in-home care services. Contact us in Alameda County at (510) 284-0000 or in Santa Clara County at (408) 735-0977 for more information.