Alzheimer's Caregiving

Frequently Asked Questions

16. What should you do when the person with Alzheimer’s is no longer competent to drive?

When the person with Alzheimer’s disease can’t think clearly and make good decisions, he or she should stop driving. But the person may not want to stop or even think there is a problem. As the caregiver, you need to explain why it’s important to stop driving. Understand how unhappy the person may be.

A person with mild memory loss may be able to drive safely sometimes. For example, he or she 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.

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.

A variety of options are available to stop someone from driving. The caregiver can ask for a doctor's help, ask family or friends to drive the person, obtain an evaluation from the Department of Motor Vehicles, hide the car keys, hide or even disable the car, or use a combination of these approaches to ensure that the person stops driving. Safety must be the first priority.

(Watch the video to see how long driving should continue for someone who has Alzheimer's. To enlarge the video, click the brackets in the lower right-hand corner. To reduce the video, press the Escape (Esc) button on your keyboard.)