How do you know when it’s time to restrict driving privileges in a person with Alzheimer’s disease? Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable riding with them or letting your children ride along, you have already unconsciously decided that the time has come to take away the keys.
Another indicator is if the person has an inability to follow a recipe or perform simple household tasks, since these types of activities require some of the same mental abilities that are necessary to safely operate a vehicle.
Any deterioration in the ability to concentrate, as well as an impairment in judgment seen in people with Alzheimer’s disease, add to the concern about such patients driving.
Here are some things to watch out for, according to the Alzheimer’s Association:
Anyone can get lost in an unfamiliar area, but those with Alzheimer’s disease may become disoriented in familiar locations.
Ignoring Traffic Signals
A failure to notice or obey traffic lights, stop signs, or other signs may mean the driver didn’t notice them, or that the driver has lost the ability to associate the sign with its meaning.
Lack of Judgment
Inability to estimate the speed of oncoming traffic, deciding whether to stop at a yellow light or slide through the intersection, or becoming confused at a four-way stop are just a few examples of poor judgment while driving. Being too slow to make decisions or making poor ones can lead to accidents.
Driving Too Fast or Too Slow
Driving at inappropriate speeds can indicate a lack of concentration, as well as poor coordination. It may also indicate poor judgment.
Anger and Confusion
Everyone has experienced road rage; it isn’t exclusive to Alzheimer’s disease. However, if the driver has Alzheimer’s, watch for frequent occurrences of anger or confusion, as well as inappropriate or exaggerated reactions while driving.