News You Can Use

Driving & Alzheimer’s Disease

Winter driving can be daunting enough without added challenges related to older age or disease. What should you do if you think it’s dangerous for a loved one to keep driving — regardless of the road conditions?

The Rhode Island Department of Human Services, Division of Elderly Affairs has issued a pamphlet entitled Safe Driving: Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders, incorporating recommendations from the RI State Plan on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders. We thought it would be helpful to share some of the information in that pamphlet here.

There is good reason to be concerned about how well older adults in your life are driving, even if they themselves are not. According to the publication, “drivers exhibiting symptoms of dementia tend to overestimate their driving abilities.”

If you have a chance to observe a loved one’s driving, here are some signs you should keep an eye out for:

  • “Unexplained dents and/or scrapes on car, fence, garage
  • Parking incorrectly
  • Driving too slowly
  • Trouble staying in lane
  • Frequently getting lost in familiar places
  • Delayed responses to unexpected situations
  • Nervous, angry or confused when driving
  • Trouble paying attention to traffic signals and road signs
  • Taking medications that could affect driving ability
  • Confusion when moving foot between gas and brake pedals
  • Difficulty hearing what is going on outside the car, such as the sound of a siren”

The pamphlet explains what you should do if your loved one refuses to stop driving even though it’s unsafe to do so and how to confidentially report an unsafe driver in Rhode Island, and outlines the DMV’s screening process for older adult driver licensing.

Heffner & Associates, Elder Care Law & Estate Planning

Jefferson Office Park
615 Jefferson Boulevard
Warwick, Rhode Island