Friday, January 4, 2013

No kidding, it is not safe to drive with dementia!

It can be very sad when an older peson loses the right to drive a car and as a society we need to be careful not to deprive people of this privilege unless it is really necessary. 

It is not too surprising then to learn there are thousands of people with onset dementia who are still driving. One of the consequences is they sometimes get lost.

A new study from the University of South Florida focuses on how people with dementia become lost while driving, how missing drivers are found, and the role of public notification systems like Florida's "Sliver Alert" in these discoveries. It suggests techniques that may help recover drivers with dementia and prevent harmful accidents.

This topic is very relevant to the caregiving community because most of the drivers who get lost have a family or an outside caregiver. About 70% of the time they drive off with the caregiver's knowledge, mostly on routine trips to the grocery store, gas station, shopping, etc. 

Less than one third take the keys without their caregiver's knowledge. 

Only 15% are found driving the car, which is a good thing. The others simply forget where they parked the car and get lost wandering around looking for it. So the situation overall isn't quite as dangerous as it might seem.

Anne-Marie Botek has written an insightful column about the Florida study, published by the website and the University of South Florida has published a press release on the USFHealth site. The study itself was published in the Journal of American Geriatric Society

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