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Dementia and Safety Series: Driving and Dementia – Having the conversation

Losing the independence driving provides can be upsetting. It is important to acknowledge a person's feelings and preserve his or her independence, while ensuring the person's safety and the safety of others. Starting the conversation

  • You should Initiate a dialogue to express your concerns to your loved while putting emphasis on the positive and offer alternatives to driving.

  • I also believe that it would be helpful if you let them know that you loved them and just want them to be safe.

  • It would be helpful to ask the physician to write a letter stating that the person must not drive. Or ask the physician to write a prescription that says, "No driving." You can then use the letter or prescription to reinforce the conversation.

When the conversation does not go well

Some people give up driving easily. In my case my mom stopped driving on her own. As a retired nurse she knew that she started getting confused about how to get to and from home / church etc., and she didn’t want to get lost. This transition can be very difficult for others. Be prepared for the person to become angry with you, due to the memory and insight issues that are part of Alzheimer's.

  • Be patient with your loved one, but no this will probably not be the 1st conversation but expect for them to have a problem accepting this new reality.

  • Don't blame yourself. The disease can impair insight and judgment, making it difficult for people to understand that their driving is no longer safe.

  • You may have to take away the car keys, disable the car or remove the car completely. When you do any of these things, be sure to provide safe, reliable alternative transportation.

As always always know that this new way of living without your independence is a scary thing for your loved one. Do your research on tactics in order for your loved one to understand that this is best for all involved.

My next and last topic in this section of my series is planning ahead.. Please comment and let me know if you had to deal with this and how you dealt with it..

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