alzheimers careIf you have an elderly parent, grandparent, spouse or other relative, or even a beloved friend, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimers, you’re likely concerned about their safety on the road, and you may have questions like these:

How long can someone with Alzheimers keep driving? How do I talk to my mom or dad about giving up their car keys? What will happen after they lose their car?

While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to questions like this, there are some facts that everyone should know about Alzheimers and driving.

When someone is diagnosed with Alzheimers, he or she will eventually lose the ability to drive safely. The sooner you accept that fact, the better. It’s only a matter of time.

What Should I Do?
Many seniors don’t want to stop driving because they are afraid of losing their mobility. But there are many resources out there for this exact situation. In addition to Alzheimers care specialists, home care is an increasingly popular service. Home care workers provide help around the house (cleaning, cooking, entertainment), but the best home health care services can also help with transportation.

Unfortunately, many people delay this important conversation, especially when adult children are acting as the primary caregiver for a parent. Often, it was the same parent who first taught them how to drive, and these kinds of role reversals are a major reason that being a caregiver is so stressful. Yet putting off uncomfortable conversations always does more harm than good, especially when it comes to issues like driving. If someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia continues to drive when they shouldn’t, they can seriously injure themselves or another person.

Even though these types of conversations are essential, one survey revealed that 90% of Americans over the age of 65 still haven’t talked about long-term care issues with their families.

Why Can’t You Drive a Car With Alzheimers?
Driving a car is a high stakes business. One wrong decision, one bad turn, one forgotten seat belt can turn into a tragedy in the blink of an eye. Safe driving requires motorists to make constant judgment calls behind the wheel, while also maintaining a fast reaction time; Alzheimers makes both of these more difficult.

It may not be pleasant, but if you’re worried that an aging relative is no longer safe behind the wheel, then there are two things you have to do right away. First, talk to your relative about your concerns! This might seem obvious, but you’d be shocked how many people never bother to have a simple conversation. Second, try and schedule a driving assessment for your loved one. This has the added benefit of taking the decision-making burden off your shoulders.

Remember: Alzheimers Is a Progressive Disease
The reason so many people need professional Alzheimers care? Because this disease continues to get worse over time.

This year, one in three seniors who pass away will have had some form of dementia or Alzheimers. In fact, even though it’s only the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, it’s the only disease in the top 10 that can’t be treated, prevented, or cured (yet).

If there’s one silver lining, it’s that the prevalence of this awful disease has led to a vast and growing field of Alzheimers care. If you’re looking for something in between an assisted living home and full-time in-home nursing, then find a home health care agency in your area with experience providing Alzheimers care as well.