To each their own: No decisive age for dementia patients to stop driving

Since dementia makes it difficult for people to evaluate their own abilities, the decision about when to stop driving must be based on objective tests. (Shutterstock)

Though people with dementia are up to eight times more likely than others of their age to be involved in car accidents, a recent study states that there is no exact age when they should stop driving.

However, the study suggests that the right time for them to stop driving should be determined by testing their mental and physical health.

Since dementia makes it difficult for people to evaluate their own ability to drive safely, the decision about when to stop driving must be based on objective tests.

To determine which kinds of tests best evaluate driving safety, researchers from Macquarie University analysed 28 studies that investigated the relationship between driving and cognitive function in people with dementia.

The study was the first of its kind to examine drivers with dementia and which existing tests might be most helpful in assessing their driving skills safety.

The researchers reviewed studies that examined various testing methods, including mental status tests, on-road assessments, tests using computerized and simulated driving and those using motor vehicle crash data.

 

 

They also determined that current testing procedures are only about 77% accurate for predicting how safely people with dementia can drive.

They concluded that better, more accurate testing tools are needed to assess whether or not people with dementia can continue to drive safely.

Doctors, nurses, social workers, and other experts can evaluate the abilities and help the transition to driver’s retirement when the time is right.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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