Ways To Address Memory or Judgement Issues Affecting Driving

Ways To Address Memory or Judgement Issues Affecting Driving

Solutions to address memory or judgment issues related to driving include:

  • Getting professional help
  • Considering alternatives to driving

Getting Professional Help

Older adults' driving might change if they:

  • Become less confident or more anxious about their driving skills
  • Are easily confused
  • Have trouble remembering directions or rules of the road

Share your driving safety concerns with the older adult. Ask what might be causing the problems you see. Also ask if the older adult has noticed any changes with driving.

Involve the older adult's health professionals by telling them about your concerns, including:

  • When you first noticed problems with the older adult's driving
  • Whether there are certain times, locations or conditions that make driving especially challenging for the older adult
  • If the older adult's driving seems to be getting worse

Confusion or problems with judgment or memory can be caused by medications, lack of sleep, treatable health issues or serious health conditions.

Ask a pharmacist or other health professional to review all the older adult's medications.

Ask if any might affect driving. Sometimes, changing or reducing medications can help make driving safer.

For a thorough medication review:

  • Bring all of the older adult's medications, prescription and over-the-counter
  • Discuss when and how the older adult takes each medication
  • Ask the health professional what each medication is for
  • Ask the health professional what side effects each medication might have
  • Ask if the older adult has side effects, difficulty swallowing pills or taking medications as directed, or any other medication problems

If the older adult has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia, the older adult will need to stop driving at some point. Discuss driving "retirement" with the older adult, as early as possible. Including health professionals, social workers or others who the older adult trusts might make conversations easier. If the older adult gets a professional driving assessment, the occupational therapist can help figure out when it is no longer safe for the older adult to drive.

Considering Alternatives to Driving

If the older adult has increasing problems or concerns with driving, talk to them about driving less and finding other ways to get around.

Ask if the older adult can make gradual changes by:

  • Driving shorter distances
  • Driving only during daylight hours
  • Driving only on familiar roads
  • Not driving in bad weather
  • Avoiding left turns on busy streets, unless there's a left turn arrow
  • Avoiding driving on busy streets or during rush hour
  • Getting rides with others when possible

Look into transportation alternatives in the older adult's area, such as public transit, volunteer driver programs or rideshare programs. Ask family, friends and neighbors if they might be willing to drive the older adult around occasionally.

If the older adult starts driving less, make sure the older adult can still visit friends and family and take part in social activities. When older adults drive less or stop driving, they might become isolated or depressed.

If the older adult stops driving, ask if the older adult wants to keep the car, so that others can use it. Ask if the older adult wants to keep a driver's license or get another form of identification for travel, voting and other uses.