Driving skills are affected by dementia
For many people, driving is an important part of life. Driving is part of being independent as well as Some people like going for leisurely Sunday drives or going for a drive to clear their minds. Because of this, the thought of giving up driving can be a really difficult topic.
In order to drive safely, you need quick reaction times, coordination, and problem-solving skills. These skills deteriorate in all of us as we age, but more so in people with dementia. When people are told they have dementia, they often worry about whether they will be allowed to drive, or whether they should still drive.
People with dementia can continue to drive after passing an assessment
In Canada, people who are diagnosed with early stages of dementia do not automatically lose their license. In some Canadian provinces and territories, people are legally obligated to tell the driver’s licensing authority (e.g., Department of Public Safety, Motor Vehicle or the provincial Ministry of Transportation) about medical conditions that may affect their ability to drive, including dementia or mini strokes. Doctors are required by law to report to the provincial authorities any medical conditions, including dementia, that impact a person’s ability to drive safely.
If the doctor is concerned about a person with dementia’s ability to drive, they will complete a medical form which is sent to the provincial or territorial authorities. The doctor may ask that the person with dementia not drive until they are assessed by the licensing authority.
To provide an assessment of someone’s ability to drive, the licensing authority may also request an on-road driving assessment. In some provinces, a Fitness to Drive assessment is suggested which is an on and off-road assessment. The cost of the assessment varies. If the licensing authority doesn’t think the person with dementia is safe to drive, then they may have their license revoked.
A dementia diagnosis may affect a person’s car insurance. If you are supporting someone with dementia, you may need to remind them to tell their insurance provider about the person’s diagnosis, as the policy may be void if this information isn’t provided. They may raise insurance premiums for the person with dementia.
Learn more about assessing driving skills
Visit this CAA website. This site has information about assessing and maintaining driving skills, including a pre-driving checklist.
Keep a list
If you are concerned about the person with dementia’s driving and they are in early stages of dementia, keep a list of your concerns. Then, bring your list to the person with dementia’s family doctor at their next appointment to talk about it.