Alzheimer’s Safety – Unsafe Driving (continued)

Return to prior page:  Alzheimer’s Safety – Unsafe Driving 

The doctor of a person with Alzheimer’s disease can assist the family with the task of restricting driving.  Talk with the doctor about your concerns.  Most people will listen to their doctor.  Ask the doctor to advise the person with AD to reduce his or her driving, go for a driving evaluation or test, or stop driving altogether.  An increasing number of states have laws requiring physicians to report AD and related disorders to the Department of Motor Vehicles.  The Department of Motor Vehicles then is responsible for retesting the at-risk driver.  Testing should occur regularly, at least yearly.

When dementia impairs driving and the person with AD continues to insist on driving, a number of different approaches may be necessary.

  • Work as a team with family, friends, and professionals and use a single, simple explanation for the loss of driving ability such as: “You have a memory problem and it is no longer safe to drive.”, ” You cannot drive because you are on medication” or “The doctor has prescribed that you no longer drive.”
  • Have the doctor write on a prescription pad DO NOT DRIVE. Ask the doctor to write to the Department of Motor Vehicles or Department of Public Safety saying this person should no longer drive.  Show the letter to the person with AD as evidence.
  • Offer to drive.
  • Walk when possible, and make these outings special events.
  • Use public transportation or any special transportation provided by community organizations.  Ask about senior discounts or transportation coupons.  The person with Alzheimer’s should not take public transportation unsupervised.
  • Park the car at a friend’s home.
  • Hide the car keys.
  • Exchange car keys with a set of unusable keys.  Some people with AD are in the habit of carrying keys.
  • Place a large note under the car hood requesting that any mechanic call you before doing work requested by the person with AD.
  • Have a mechanic install a kill switch or alarm system that disengages the fuel line to prevent the car from starting.
  • Consider selling the car and putting aside the money saved from insurance, repairs, and gasoline for taxi funds.
  • Do not leave a person with AD alone in a parked car.

See the next page in this series:  Alzheimer’s Safety  – Natural Disasters


Acorn wishes to acknowledge the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center that were the sources for this valuable content.