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Can a Test Determine When Seniors with Dementia Should Stop Driving?

By Rick Cohen, 9:00 am on

As dementia symptoms progress, they can interfere with a senior’s ability to drive safely due to changes in his or her mental and vision acuity. Although vision testing has reduced much of the risk, according to Milwaukee senior home care professionals, it has been difficult to tell when dementia symptoms may prevent a person from making sound decisions in the driver’s seat. Now, seniors and their families can benefit from a new test called the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) scale that can shed some insight on when it might be time to hang up the keys.

How the Test Works

The CDR is a series of questions that is given by a trained health professional as a structured interview to a senior’s primary Milwaukee caregiver. The questions pertain to a person’s lifestyle habits, ability to perform mental and physical tasks, and his or her capability of recalling pertinent information. Using the answers provided, the test administrator will then assign a numerical score that ranges from 0.5 to 3. Typically, doctors will recommend that a person stop driving once he or she reaches a score of 2 or higher. However, those who score a 1 fall into a gray area that requires further evaluation of a senior’s safety.

Evaluating Driver Safety

In addition to the CDR, it is important for caregivers to ride alongside their senior loved ones to observe their driving habits. Failing to stop at traffic signals or follow speed limits are two warning signs that a senior with dementia may need to give up the keys. Anger, frustration, or getting lost on familiar routes are also indicators that it may be necessary to make other transportation arrangements.

Driving Alternatives

Naturally, many seniors are reluctant to move into the passenger seat because it marks a loss of independence. However, providing transportation alternatives can reassure them that they will always have a way to get to their destination. Family members and other caregivers can work together to create a schedule for taking turns driving to and from appointments. Additionally, many communities have senior shuttles to take older adults to popular destinations such as shopping malls.

Giving up the keys is one of the hardest parts of aging. Ensuring your senior loved one has regular transportation and support can help make the difficult transition easier. Find the support he or she needs and deserves through Home Care Assistance. We provide live-in, hourly, and respite care in Milwaukee and can help your loved one with everything from running errands to cooking. To learn more, please give us a call at (414) 964-8000 today.

When Is It Time for Seniors with Dementia to Stop Driving?