Post date: 2/28/2023
The road can be uncertain when your loved one is diagnosed with memory loss. Sun Health’s Memory Care Navigators offers advice on delicate decisions around whether driving is still safe.
The road can be uncertain when your loved one is diagnosed with memory loss. Dementia, with the most common form being Alzheimer’s, is the general term used when memory loss, thinking, problem-solving deficits interfere with daily activities. One activity that needs to be monitored closely after a dementia diagnosis is driving.
“It is normal as we age to have changes in our vision, hearing and flexibility. That is to be expected,” explains Marty Finley, M.Ed., Sun Health’s Lead Memory Care Navigator. “What is different when someone is diagnosed with dementia is the ability to concentrate on what they are doing and how to react appropriately.”
Finley points out driving is a complex and complicated task, which requires the ability to focus, and simultaneously change our attention to surrounding variables at a moment’s notice. For example, a person could turn in front of you, prompting the need for a quick reaction and good decision-making ability to avoid a collision.
“Families tend to think mom or dad are ok to drive because it’s only their short-term memory that is problematic” Ms. Finley says. “But what I teach is that the multiple brain changes that impact judgment and reasoning can cause someone to do things that are unsafe. Many other factors associated with dementia impact your ability to drive safely.”
Finley acknowledges that discussions around driving ability can be tricky and says signs that it “could be time” are things like unexplained dents or dings on the car – signaling that the individual is having difficulty navigating their vehicle and that skills such as parking or making turns have declined. “Sun Health works to educate and inform families so they have the facts to come to a good decision regarding their loved one with Dementia and driving.”
“Sun Health works to educate and inform families so they have the facts so they can come to a good decision regarding their loved one with Dementia and driving,” Finley added.
Sun Health’s Memory Care Navigator program, offered at no-charge, provides personal and professional guidance for patients, family members and caregivers coping with the emotional, psychological and physical effects of dementia. Call 623-471-9300 to schedule a complimentary consultation.