Having a loved one or spouse with dementia comes with many challenges, hard conversations and decisions. Including a very common but extremely difficult one, is it time to take away the car keys?
People in the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s may be able to drive safely for a time. But as the disease progresses driving will become increasingly unsafe and they risk harming themselves and others.
Even with this common knowledge, what makes this topic so hard to discuss and accept when the time comes time to stop driving?
Driving Means Freedom
For many people driving means freedom and giving it up can be very difficult. Asking a loved one to hand over the car keys is emotional and the request can be perceived as asking them to recognize they are in a state of mental decline and no longer able to live life on their terms.
Even if they have already realized driving is becoming more difficult, or even dangerous, having others recognize the signs and confront them can bring fear, anger or many other emotions.
Driving is also associated with freedom – not just for the person living with dementia, but also for their caregivers. In fact, some caregivers may let their loved ones drive on their own longer than they should because they aren’t ready to give up their freedom either. Providing everyday care and transportation for someone who needs to buy groceries, run errands, get to medical appointments, church or visit friends is a big task.
Don’t Risk Driving Safety For Freedom
It is hard to determine when someone should stop driving but there are assessments and early warning signs to help evaluate the situation. See this guide from The Hartford outlining what to look for, how to have positive conversations and helpful tips to ease someone used to driving into being an active passenger.
Don’t risk the safety of your loved one, or others, for fear of hurting someone’s feelings or losing a sense of freedom. Their lives, and the lives of others, are too important.
Get more tips on living with Alzheimer’s and dementia from The Memory Centers. Our premier residential communities in Richmond and Virginia Beach care for those living in cognitive decline with a customized, interactive approach to promote living well with Alzheimer’s and dementia.