The loss of driving is a major life event that affects both the person with dementia and you. Even after the person with dementia has made the transition to non-driving, you may both continue ot experience a wide range of emotions. However, emotions can be unpredictable and everyone is different. Although some people with dementia have very strong negative feelings about having to give up driving, others are accepting or relieved. Likewise, you may find yourself having both negative and positive feelings about it.
Giving up driving can be very emotional because driving fulfills
different needs for different people. As a result, giving up driving can
have a serious impact on the person with dementia's sense of identity and self-worth.
For example, driving can be connected to various aspects of identity and lifestyle such as:
Here's what some people with dementia have to say:
Once you have identified what you are feeling—for example, sadness or
anxiety or anger?—then to cope, don’t try to avoid the emotion by simply
continuing as if you aren’t having these feelings. Instead, allow
yourself to feel the emotion. For example, to heal feelings of loss,
rather than denying yourself grief, be kind to yourself by allowing
yourself to grieve. Signs that you may be experiencing grief include:
Here's what some family members have to say:
As a major life change, the loss of driving can lead to a range of emotions even for people without dementia. For people with dementia, reactions can be even stronger due to poor memory and lack of insight that are often part of dementia. The lack of insight into the dangers of driving with dementia makes it especially hard for the person with dementia to appreciate the limitations being imposed. Also, their emotions may change over time. To help the person with dementia cope with the range of feelings they may be experiencing now—or in the future—try these ideas:
By understanding the range of emotions the person with dementia may be
feeling, you will be in a better position to help them adjust to life
without driving. Try to relate to what the person with dementia is going
through by recognizing that typical emotions include:
Here's what various emotions may sound like:
Source: Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County
Overall, creating a trusting relationship and open dialogue will help the person with dementia cope with their emotions.
To help offset the loss of identity and purpose that the person with
dementia may be experiencing, encourage them to try new activities. For example, attending adult day centres and volunteering with the Alzheimer Society can provide opportunities to socialize and help others,
restoring their feelings of self-worth. Also, work through
this circle of support worksheet (click here) to help identify who else they can turn to for support. It was produced by The Hartford.
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