One of the first things family members of a diagnosed dementia patient consider is if the person should be driving with dementia. Dementia is a chronic malfunction of the mental processes caused by brain injury or diseases. Older adults over sixty-five are mainly susceptible to this disease.
The decline in memory and judgment are symptoms of dementia. These are symptoms that continually deteriorate with time. This decline means that the person’s driving skills will also automatically depreciate.
Driving with dementia is dependent on the stage of the sickness. In the early stages, operating a car wouldn’t seem different. However, as the illness progresses, it becomes more tasking and unsafe.
Risky Driving Behaviours Associated With Driving With Dementia
Driving with dementia could lead to certain behaviors in traffic. Below are a few of them.
- Slow Response Time: Response time in traffic varies amongst different people. There’s no specific response time. However, it ranges within a few seconds. There’s a noticeably slower response to traffic in people driving with dementia. This slow response is risky behavior that could lead to accidents.
- Traffic Violation: In the later stages of this sickness, patients experience a state of visual-spatial disorientation. This mental confusion leads to distraction which in turn causes traffic violations. They drive recklessly and sometimes exceed the speed limit.
- Delay On Getting To A Destination: Driving with dementia is confusing. Imagine starting a journey, and along the way, there’s zero knowledge as to why you embarked on that journey. They could abruptly remember their destination in the middle of traffic and respond with reckless driving.
- Driving Too Fast Or Too Slow: This behavior can increase the risk of collision, which could cause severe injuries or death for them and other people.
Ways To Manage Driving With Dementia
When you notice their abilities have depreciated to the point where collision is inevitable, they should be restricted from driving. However, below are some ways to manage this problem.
- Infuse Technology Into Driving: Assistive technology like GPS should be used to help them. This navigation system shows them their location on a digital map and gives them instructions on how to arrive at their destination.
- Healthier Living: Living well has often slowed the progress of dementia. Being socially and physically active and maintaining a superb diet will keep you in the early stages of the sickness for a long time. There’ll be fewer worries about operating a car at this early stage.
- Maintain A Consistent Route And Routine: Make sure they use the same route constantly. They should also stick to the same routine when driving. For example, if they move from home to the store to medical appointments every day, they should maintain that pattern.
- Monitor their Ability To Drive: From time to time, have someone assess their skills. It helps you observe early changes in their ability to drive, and it’ll also make you aware of risky behaviors they might have been exhibiting.
Dealing with this sickness is quite draining. However, driving with dementia is an aspect that requires special attention. You need to make sure they are in the right shape to operate a vehicle. You also have to be prepared to rip off their mobility privileges while considering their emotions.