In 2016, 3450 deaths were caused as a result of distracted driving. While anyone can lose concentration while at the wheel, those with neurological conditions are at a higher risk. When you find out a loved one is living with Alzheimer’s there are plenty of changes that have to be made, but have you thought about driving habits? There are things to consider both when a person with Alzheimer’s gets behind the wheel, but also when they are a passenger. The following will keep you safe as a carer, as well as looking after the well-being of the person you are caring for and any other person inside or outside the vehicle, ensuring a safe and happy journey for all.
Is It Time to Stop Driving?
So your loved one is showing early signs of Alzheimer’s. Do they need to give up driving straight away? In most cases, the answer is no. Driving is a common and often indispensable part of an adult’s life. It is something which comes naturally and improves over time. As you age, however, your reaction times and concentration levels will decrease, but this isn’t necessarily the end of the road.
Talk to the person you care for and ask for their opinion. This is a good place to start with any issue you might want to raise. They can tell you if they feel less alert, but they may not do so until you ask. You should be clear that one day they will no longer be able to drive while reassuring them that this is the case for all drivers. Ease the transition by encouraging them to drive less and use public transport more to allow them to become comfortable with the process.
Of course, if their driving becomes dangerous, it is time to stop. Are they driving erratically? Do they seem to lack control of their speed or the car’s controls? If so, it is also time for them to move on from driving. They may feel anxious, confused or angry by the driving experience, so encourage them to consider becoming a passenger instead, where they will feel more relaxed.
Ensuring the Safety of Passengers with Alzheimer’s
Once the driving period of your loved one’s life is over, they will return to being a passenger. This could take some getting used to, and it is worth taking some precautions. First and foremost, ensure the car is safe for all occupants, and that its service record is up to date. You want your passenger to feel safe at all times, which requires a vehicle that runs reliably and smoothly. You should drive slowly and carefully, taking regular stops if required. This will keep them calm and comfortable so that there is little risk of them distracting the driver.
Safe driving practice requires complete concentration on the road ahead. If this is lacking, then, unfortunately, a person’s time on the road must end. Help your loved one to transition by encouraging them to slowly switch to alternative means. If you are their driver, then you need to ensure that you create a comfortable driving experience, by keeping the car in good shape and driving extra carefully with plenty of stops. This will keep everyone free and mobile for many years to come.