- If reasoning doesn’t work (and it may not the first few times), put the vehicle out of sight, out of mind. Hide the car keys, tell the person it’s in the shop, or don't park where the person can see it.

-Make the person an active participant in the conversation. Listening to their concerns helps the process be more open and honest.

- Validate their feelings and be empathetic. People with dementia experience many losses. Expect and respect the grieving process.

- The reluctance of the individual to give up driving may be for fear they'll become isolated. Ensure everything remains the same once they’ve hung up the keys. If they're accustomed to getting in the car and doing grocery shopping on Wednesday mornings, try your best to maintain the routine.

To find a driving assessment centre near you: visit sites like DriveABLE.com, which list some licensed assessment providers by country, province and state. 

- Bring in someone outside of the family to discuss the situation so that the individual will not feel as if there's a family agenda against them. A social worker, police officer, counselor, or dementia expert can be asked to weigh in with their opinion. You might also ask the doctor to write a prescription that reads, “Do not drive.”

- Have the conversation early on and plan for the future. If the only driver in the relationship is the one diagnosed with dementia (as often happens in elderly couples), you’ll need alternative transportation. Look into public transit routes, ride services offered by community groups, taxi services, enlist family and friends to help out or  consider delivery service for medications and food delivery.

 

Be prepared to have the tremendously difficult conversation many times, but be firm and don't sway from the original script. Ultimately, you can expect the person with dementia to not think any more about driving.

In this conversation,  tough love is not only required—it’s a must. You have to remember that ultimately, you are looking out for the well-being and safety of your loved one and that of other people on the road.


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Romina Oliverio

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