Degenerative brain diseases can often be widely misunderstood, leading many to overestimate/underestimate the effect they have on someone’s ability to continue everyday activities and be trusted with certain responsibilities. One of these considerations many people need to face with their elderly family members is whether or not to support/allow them to continue driving with dementia.
To help families make an authoritative decision that helps to protect their elderly relative and the wider community/other road users, there are several mechanisms to test someone’s ability when driving with dementia. The following will take a look at the importance of this testing.
How can this condition affect the ability to operate a vehicle?
When it comes to driving with dementia or other degenerative brain diseases, and assessing someone’s ability to do so, you must understand that as a degenerative condition it will begin with light symptoms and gradually get worse. This can make it difficult to determine when exactly someone’s has crossed the threshold of no longer being safe to operate a vehicle with their degenerative brain disease, and this reinforces the importance of professional testing.
Things like hearing, vision, reaction time, problem-solving, coordination, alertness, direction confusion and mood swings are all things that need to be considered when looking at someone’s ability to continue driving with dementia. Without testing for these things at the first diagnosis of the condition, it can be difficult to notice the subtle deterioration in their ability until it is too late.
An inconvenient truth
The main thing to understand about driving with dementia and the necessity to test it is that it is for the safety of everyone. It can be very difficult for someone who has used a car without issue all their life to be told they can no longer do so, especially if they haven’t had an accident yet and it is a purely precautionary measure once a decrease in their ability is perceived.
While you may notice an elderly relative become worse while driving with dementia, they could be stubborn and refuse to acknowledge it, insisting that they are fine. Some of the symptoms of their condition may also worsen their reaction to you and others who have good intentions, and they may exhibit feelings of paranoia and anger.
Nobody likes to feel patronised or babied, so it’s best to approach this situation in a calm, rational way that examines the facts and engages with the cognitive ability they still have. Sometimes there may be no way to reconcile the problem, and they will need to have their keys forcibly taken from them/their vehicle impounded and their license revoked.
While these measures may seem harsh to take with someone you love, they are ultimately an act of love since you don’t want to see them get hurt or cause harm to others. In most cases, you can assume that, if their mental faculties were not impaired, they would agree with your decision to restrain them from driving with dementia.
When you are testing for driving with dementia, you should understand that there are different providers out there that you can engage to help you out. They will be professionals who can authoritatively determine the ability of someone to use a vehicle with this condition, and assess how impaired they truly are.
This testing process should be started as early as possible so that any issues can be identified, and the correct course of action can be taken. This is the most important aspect when you are testing the ability of someone’s ongoing driving with dementia, no matter who they are or what the circumstances happen to be.