Alzheimer's Caregiving

Safety and Driving Issues

Safety is an important issue in caring for a person with Alzheimer's disease. Even with the best-laid plans, accidents can happen. Checking the safety of your home, keeping the person from wandering and preventing him or her from driving when driving skills decline are some ways you can minimize hazardous situations.

Changes in Home Management Skills

Over time, people with Alzheimer’s disease become less able to manage things around the house. For example, they may not remember

Create a Safe Home Environment

Here are some things you can do in your home environment to help keep the person with Alzheimer’s safe.

Watch a video for more tips on how to create a safe home environment.

Use Home Safety Devices

As a caregiver, you can do many things to make a house safer for people with Alzheimer’s. Add the following to your home if you don't already have them in place.

Lock Up or Remove Some Items

Lock up or remove the following from your home.

Reduce the Risk of Falls

To reduce the risk of falls, make sure the person has good floor traction for walking or pacing. Good traction lowers the chance that people will slip and fall. Three factors affect traction:

  1. The kind of floor surface. A smooth or waxed floor of tile, linoleum, or wood may be a problem for the person with Alzheimer’s. Think about how you might make the floor less slippery.
  2. Spills. Watch carefully for spills and clean them up right away.
  3. Shoes. Buy shoes and slippers with good traction. Look at the bottom of the shoe to check the type of material and tread.

Read more at "Fall Proofing Your Home."

Limit Wandering

Many people with Alzheimer's wander away from their home or caregiver. Knowing how to limit wandering can prevent a person from becoming lost or hurt.

When Driving Skills Decline

A person with mild memory loss may be able to drive safely sometimes. But, he or she may not be able to react quickly when faced with a surprise on the road. This can lead to dangerous results. If the person's reaction time slows, then you need to stop the person from driving.

The person may be able to drive short distances on local streets during the day, but may not be able to drive safely at night or on a freeway. If this is the case, then limit the times and places that the person can drive.

Signs That a Person Should Stop Driving

When the person with Alzheimer’s disease can’t think clearly and make good decisions, he or she should stop driving. One sign that someone should stop driving is new dents and scratches on the car. Another sign is taking a long time to do a simple errand and not being able to explain why, which may indicate that the person got lost.

Some people with memory problems decide on their own not to drive. Others don't want to stop driving and may deny that they have a problem. As the caregiver, you need to explain why it’s important to stop driving. Do this in a caring way. Understand how unhappy the person may be to admit that he or she has reached this new stage.

Tips to Stop Someone from Driving

Here are some ways to stop people with Alzheimer’s disease from driving.

For more information, see Keeping the Person with AD Safe. You can order a print copy of this booklet by calling 1-800-222-2225 or visiting www.nia.nih.gov/health.