Welcome to Driving with Dementia

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I am a family/friend caring for a person with dementia who is still driving. I am interested in:

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Having conversations about giving up driving

When starting a conversation about driving risk with the person with dementia, it is important to show compassion and empathy. Think about how it would feel to no longer be able to drive. Share your thoughts with the person with dementia while encouraging them to also talk about what the loss of driving means to them.

The most appropriate person to start this conversation should be someone who is familiar with the person with dementia’s health condition and their driving abilities. Of course, this person should also be someone whom the person with dementia trusts. Start the conversation early and have ongoing discussions that:

Involve the person with dementia

It’s important to involve the person with dementia in driving discussions so that they feel respected and have a sense of control. Ideally, the person with dementia will transition to no longer driving over time, providing the opportunity to work together on a plan of action.

Be prepared for reactions like anger or sadness, which can sometimes be extreme due to the memory and insight issues that are often part of dementia. Once the person with dementia buys into the idea of no longer driving, use this Agreement with my Family about Driving (click here), produced by The Hartford.

Try these tips:
  • Allow the person with dementia to express how they feel about driving.
  • Try to remain calm, without sounding angry, even though you may feel anxious and fearful.
  • For example, you can ask them for their opinion and ideas with questions like:

    • How important is driving to you?
    • Have you ever thought about stopping driving?
    • Are you considering stopping driving now that you have the diagnosis of dementia?
    • If you stopped driving, do you have ideas about how you would get around?

Involve family members

Family members often have different ways of approaching difficult issues, such as stopping to drive. However, family members can provide support for both you and the person with dementia as you face tough decisions. Try to create opportunities for family members to observe the person with dementia’s driving abilities.

For example, the person with dementia may: 

  • Take control and not consider others’ opinions.
  • Avoid dealing with the issue altogether.
  • Not disclose their concerns because they think it could be hurtful, disloyal, or cause conflict.

    Involve friends

    In addition to family members, you might also want to encourage the person with dementia to reach out to others regarding a future without driving. You might also find talking to a friend or joining a support group helpful.

    For example, you could encourage the person with dementia to:

    • Talk to a good friend about their feelings regarding a future without driving.
    • Talk to or read online about other people with dementia and what it means to them to give up driving.

      Here’s what some family members have to say:

      • Involve your partner in discussions and decisions. Chances are they will understand.
      • Start talking about the need to stop driving with your family member with dementia early on. Make sure they are engaged in the decision if possible.

      Click on the titles below. After reviewing a worksheet, when you close the worksheet's web page, it will automatically bring you back here.  

      See a wife having a supportive conversation about giving up driving with her husband who has dementia.

       
      Source: Alzheimer's Society 

       

      See various family/friend carers having conversations about giving up driving with people with dementia. Although some of the content is specific to Australia, most of the ideas are helpful no matter where you live. 


      Source: Alzheimer's Australia Vic. 


      Watch this video to learn strategies on how to talk about stopping to drive.

      Source: Reitman Centre, Department of Psychiatry, Sinai Health through Enhancing Care for Ontario Care Partners funding, part of Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care's Dementia Strategy.