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Transcript: "How Long Should Driving Continue?"

Cynthia D. Steele, RN, MPH
Johns Hopkins University Alzheimer's
Disease Center:

Driving is one of the most challenging issues to deal in persons with Alzheimer's disease and it's often hard to know exactly when they should stop. Eventually, the global decline that comes with the illness requires that people stop driving because they're unsafe. But early on, families may notice things like patients lose their way while driving in familiar places, they drive on the wrong side of the road or use poor judgment. I think it's important to sense whether you feel safe driving with the person or not. And certainly, if you don't feel safe no one else should be behind the wheel with that person either. The best thing to do is to try to enlist the assistance of your physician in suggesting an appropriate time for the person to stop driving. The Department of Motor Vehicles can also test patients and that can help in the decision. But it's never an easy one because it's an important sign of independence for adults. It's also important, once the decision is made that the person should not drive any longer, that you make sure the keys are not where the person can see them. Or they may forget they've been told not to drive and get in the car and drive anyway.

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