A Test Can Help Determine When Elderly with Dementia Should Stop Driving

By Pete Lane, 9:00 am on

Dementia can negatively impact vision, cognitive functioning and other factors that affect a person’s ability to drive. While some health professionals suggest that aging adults should relinquish their keys as soon as the first signs of mild dementia appear, others believe that seniors with dementia can operate vehicles safely for quite some time. Fortunately, a new test involving the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) scale is help aging adults and their doctors make informed decisions about individual driving abilities after a dementia diagnosis.

What Is the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale

The Clinical Dementia Rating scale serves as a guide for determining the severity of a senior’s dementia based upon a variety of assessed factors. This scale can be used to determine whether or not a person has adequate cognitive and physical functioning for successfully and safely navigating a vehicle on the open road. Test scores range from 0.5 to 3, with 3 being indicative of severe dementia and 0.5 suggesting mild dementia symptoms and minimum impairment. Seniors who score a 2 or above on this test are advised to immediately stop driving and to seek other means of transportation.

Self-Assessments

Like all other forms of dementia testing, there remains some room for debate with the CDR. Given that 76% of seniors with mild dementia are still capable of passing on-the-road driving tests, there is no simple formula for determining individual abilities. This is why it is best for seniors and their at-home caregivers in Centennial to first perform their own assessments before making any major and life-altering decisions. The CDR scale can be used to further justify any recommendations that seniors stop driving altogether.

Some of the most critical factors to consider when performing self-assessments is whether or not seniors can continue to read and understand important road signs and that their reaction times remain sufficient for taking evasive action. Aging adults should also have adequate memory skills for remembering their starting points, their intended destinations and their reasons for their journeys.

Alternative Transportation

Having to give up car keys can be devastating for seniors given that this change can have a significant impact on their social lives and their sense of autonomy. Fortunately, Centennial home care companies provide transportation assistance for dental and doctor appointments, shopping trips and social visits among other things. These services are great for limiting the impact that loss of driving privileges has on both senior life qualities and on supporting family members.

If progressing dementia symptoms are making it unsafe for your senior loved one to continue driving, reach out to Home Care Assistance. We provide part-time, respite, and live-in home care in Centennial and can help your aging loved one remain safe and comfortable in his or her own home. To learn more, please give us a call at 303.957.3100.