There is no set age at which people should stop driving their cars, but there are various conditions which may make it unsafe for elderly people to drive. These include visual problems, certain heart conditions, impaired movement such as with certain types of arthritis etc., and with Alzheimer’s it is inevitable as the disease progresses.
There will come a time when losing one’s way or direction, becomes a real risk. Added to this there may be problems with judgment or even confused episodes.
Unfortunately, to deny an elderly person access to their motor vehicle, has a major impact on their sense of independence and almost invariably leads to resistance and unhappiness. Nevertheless, it is a decision that family members or caregivers would have to make at some stage.
If the person’s license has been taken away, and he or she keeps driving, it can lead to problems. For example, if your family member gets into an accident, he or she will have to pay for damages and might get in trouble with the law.
If your family member should stop driving but won’t, you can try these tips. You can:
- Hide the car keys – just be prepared to deal with the frustration when he/she starts looking for them!
- Take the battery out of the car so it won’t start.
- Park the car on another block or in a spot where your family member won’t find it – there may be accusations of someone having stolen the car etc., but eventually your family member will become used to not having a car available.
- Make plans for someone else to do the driving.
- Ask the doctor to write a prescription saying the person should not drive – this can serve as a regular reminder to the patient and also prevents the caregiver from having to take the blame.
- Set up a driving test with the state – in South Africa all drivers have to be tested regularly. If the patient is still physically well and has good eyesight, it might be a good idea to take a doctor’s letter with to explain the situation to the testing authorities.
- Work with a social worker to get help with the situation.
To partake in the Helderberg Memory Centre’ Alzheimer’s Disease Trails – please contact us to become part of this very much valuable effort to combat Alzheimer’s Disease.