Driving and Dementia - DementiaHub.SG

Driving and Dementia

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Driving can represent independence and freedom for a person. One of the first concerns caregivers have when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, is whether or not he or she should drive. While it may seem like an easy and automatic activity for frequent drivers, safe driving is a complex task which requires a range of cognitive abilities,1-4 such as:

• Attention and concentration: To focus on and switch between different driving tasks while ‘reading’ the road;
Visuospatial skills: To keep to the right speed, distance and road position;
Problem-solving skills: To deal with any incidents and challenges on the road, such diversions or obstacles;
Judgement and decision-making: For example, to understand and prepare for the behaviours of other drivers;
Fast reaction time and skills: For example, to act quickly to avoid an accident; and
Memory: For example, to remember a route.3,4

When Should One With Dementia Stop Driving

A dementia diagnosis does not always mean a person has to stop driving immediately. Some individuals in the early stages or with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) still drive.5

However, as dementia is a progressive condition that affects a person’s cognitive function, it can gradually affect your ability to drive safely, compromising your own and others’ safety. Driving will no longer be an option and you must stop.

Signs of Unsafe Driving

1. Getting lost when on familiar routes to places you know well

2. Not staying in the lane (drift between lanes)

3. Confusing the brake and gas pedals

4. Failing to observe traffic signs

5. Making slow or poor decisions in traffic

6. Hitting curbs or rounding a bend

7. Road hogging or speeding

8. Becoming angry or confused easily and frequently while on the road

9. Being involved in minor accidents or near-misses

10. Getting more traffic fines

Deciding to stop driving is a difficult decision, but it does not mean the end of your independence and freedom.

For your own safety and that of others on the road, it is important for you to be honest and open about your condition to your doctor and loved ones. Do not withhold information from your doctor to keep your license since this may put both you and others at risk.1

Look for Alternative Transportation Options

Fortunately, Singapore’s public transport system is amongst the best in the world. You can easily get around Singapore by various modes of transport – by taxi, private-hire car, MRT, and/or bus.

To help with your transition, you can begin taking public transport more often while you are still capable of driving. For example, you can take the public transport to your neighbourhood to buy your groceries, to a community centre, or to the shopping centre.

References

  1. UBC eHealth Strategy Office. (2011). Getting to know dementia: A patient’s guide to diagnosis, treatment, and care. https://www.fraserhealth.ca/-/media/Project/FraserHealth/FraserHealth/Health-Topics/Mental-Health-Substance-Use/Getting_to_know_dementia_a_patient_guide_to_diagnosis_treatment_and_care.pdf?la=en&hash=11C5366B58CAB0628DC4979E9E91976F1EBBF615
  2. Dementia Australia. (n.d.). Dementia and driving. https://www.dementia.org.au/resources/dementia-and-driving
  3. Alzheimer’s Society. (n.d.). Driving and Dementia. https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/staying-independent/driving-dementia
  4. Alzheimer’s Society. (2020). Driving and dementia. https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/sites/default/files/2018-10/439LP%20Driving%20and%20dementia.pdf
  5. Alzheimer Scotland. (2016). Driving and dementia. https://www.eddn.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Driving-and-Dementia.pdf
  6. Mayo Clinic. (2019, July 3). Alzheimer’s and dementia: When to stop driving. https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/alzheimers-and-dementia-when-to-stop-driving/.
  7. Alzheimer’s Association. (n.d.). Dementia and driving. https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/safety/dementia-driving
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