As of 2006 an estimated 30% of older adults diagnosed with dementia were still driving. This article published by the National Center for Senior Transportation (NCST), explores the implications of current research regarding older adults and dementia. It is based on a review of relevant research and resources “commissioned by the Alzheimer’s Association in 2010 as a part of a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-funded Driving and Dementia initiative.”
The NCST article provides information and suggestions on transportation issues for seniors as it relates to dementia and when to stop driving. Community planners and local governments can utilize the information to determine how to evaluate the readiness of drivers as they age. The article explores the need for frequent and multiple forms of cognitive testing, as well as how caregivers and family can champion this sensitive issue for older adults within a community.
Other article highlights include:
- The need for localities to consider multiple forms of testing for signs of dementia with the cooperation of outside support such as caregivers, family and friends. This increases the need for training and awareness as the age shift progresses.
- Physicians are concerned about offering advice regarding the implications of dementia due to liability issues. The difficulty with this reservation is that many older adults rely on their doctor’s advice in determining whether the progression of dementia hampers their own driving capacity.
- Training is needed for caregivers, family members, local governments who may have to revoke driving privileges, and others to help older adults cope. “Permanent driving cessation for older adults is one of the most significant and deeply personal losses they will face” (page 3).
As communities wrestle with the implications of increasing numbers of older Americans on the road, it becomes imperative for local governments to consider how to mitigate potential risk and harm as it relates to aging. This has to include dementia and the issues associated with it, ranging from recognizing the disease to coping with the loss of driving due to dementia. This situation will only grow more intense as more of the Boomer generation is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other dementia.
How to Use
Community planners and local governments should review this article as they consider the implications of aging drivers with dementia within their own locality. Planners should be kept aware of new transportation initiatives and issues as they relate to seniors, particularly with more seniors driving longer. Finally, awareness of new organizational partnerships, funding and grants, and interviews with key figures will help personalize new inroads and opportunities in planning efforts.