For people in the early stages of Alzheimer's, it is never too soon to plan ahead for how you will get around when you can no longer drive. Putting a plan in place can be an empowering way to make your voice heard.
Remember that each situation is unique. What works for one person may be different from what works for another. You can get the information and support you need from the Alzheimer's Association at 800.272.3900.
- Involve family and close friends in the plan.
- Confront resistance. Empathize with those who are uncomfortable having the conversation and stress the importance of preparing for the future.
- Develop an agreement for all to share that includes practical safety steps, such as a periodic driving assessment, a GPS monitoring system for the car, and alternate transportation options.
Driving is not the only transportation option available. There are many options people can explore that will allow them to continue to travel independently and remain in control of their mobility.
- Transition driving responsibilities to others. Arrange for family members and friends to provide transportation.
- Arrange a taxi service.
- Use special transportation services for older adults. Access local resources using the Eldercare Locator at www.eldercare.gov or use our Community Resource Finder to search for transportation services.
- Reduce the need to drive by having prescription medicines, groceries or meals delivered.
At the earliest stages, a person with Alzheimer's disease may begin to have difficulty with complex tasks such as driving. Although family and caregivers can watch for signs of unsafe driving, a proactive strategy would be to get a comprehensive driving evaluation by an occupational therapy driving rehabilitation specialist. The evaluation provides a more objective understanding of the current impact of the disease on driving capacity and results in a plan of options. The goal is always to retain the highest level of independence and mobility in the community. Initial recommendations may include strategies to reduce driving risk during the early part of the disease. The occupational therapist can offer strategies specific to the individual's goals and needs. The American Occupational Therapy Association website includes a national database of driving specialists as well as a wealth of resources for both persons with Alzheimer's disease and their families.