Driving Safety and Dementia

collage of older couples

If the older adult in your life has been diagnosed with dementia, they may not have to stop driving right away. However, there are signs that family members and caregivers should watch for to ensure that the older driver is safe on the road.

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) laid out a list of signs that someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia should stop driving include:

  • New dents or scrapes on the car or multiple near misses or crashes
  • Taking a long time to do a simple errand and not being able to explain why
  • Confusing the brake and gas pedals
  • Multiple traffic tickets or warnings
  • Comments from neighbors or friends about unsafe driving
  • Other health issues that might affect driving, such as changes in vision, hearing, and movement
  • Speeding or driving too slowly
  • Making sudden lane changes or other poor decisions in traffic
  • Recommendations from a doctor to modify driving habits or to quit driving

Read more about other considerations around driving safety and Alzheimer’s from the NIA article, such as:

  • Evaluating driving skills
  • What are the laws about dementia and driving?
  • What to do when driving becomes unsafe
  • Finding other transportation options

When driving becomes unsafe, it can be a tough conversation for the family member, caregiver, and older driver, but we have resources that can help you prepare for the conversation, know when to talk to someone about their driving, or how you can work with an older driver to develop a safe driving plan.

You can also find information on the Clearinghouse for Older Road User Safety on how medical conditions and medications may affect driving or resources for available transportation options in your state.

While caring for a person with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other cognitive impairments can cause unforeseen burdens and stress, there are resources available to help as you navigate their diagnosis and care.