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Can a Test Determine when Seniors with Dementia Should Stop Driving?

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Can a Test Determine When Seniors with Dementia Should Stop Driving in Colorado Springs, CO

When a senior develops early symptoms of dementia, family members often become concerned about whether he or she should continue driving. However, telling your aging loved one to stop driving can easily lead to conflict. One way to avoid arguments and minimize tension is to schedule an assessment to get a neutral third-party opinion on your loved one’s ability to safely operate a vehicle. 

The Test

The level of dementia a person experiences is most commonly measured using a test called the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) Scale. Individuals with mild dementia score a 0.5 or a 1, and those with moderate to severe dementia score a 2 or 3. Seniors with a 0.5 score can continue to drive, and seniors with a score of 2 or higher should give up the keys. However, whether those who score a 1 are able to drive safely is still under debate. 

For older adults who are no longer able to drive safely, a home caregiver can be a great resource. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of in-home care families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

A Score of 1

Some doctors have suggested anyone who scores a 1 on the test should immediately stop driving, but roughly 75 percent of individuals with mild dementia are fully capable of passing a driver’s test, and some studies suggest a physician’s subjective assessment of an individual’s ability to drive is highly inaccurate. Another study found that the use of a GPS system was able to correct for navigational difficulties in seniors with mild dementia, rendering them quite capable of driving safely. 

Caregiver Concerns

A large study of individuals with dementia reported that only 5.5 percent discontinued driving due to accidents or an inability to pass a driving test. The primary reason for discontinuing driving, according to 93.8 percent of participants, was concern on the part of their caregivers. There was no correlation between scores on the CDR and the level of concern expressed by caregivers. The majority of seniors with dementia who ceased driving due to caregiver concerns were women with CDR scores of 1.0, suggesting possible gender bias affecting caregiver concerns, especially considering the very low rate of traffic accidents among seniors with mild dementia who continue to drive. 

Driving may not be the only safety concern you have about your parent, and you may find extra peace of mind by hiring a professional caregiver. Families looking for top-rated Colorado Springs home care service providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones.

Screening Doesn’t Increase Safety

Another study reported that mandatory cognitive screening of older drivers using a test similar to the CDR had no effect on the number of traffic accidents in the area implementing the screening, meaning seniors who score a 1.0 on the CDR may in fact be able to safely drive. 

Even when families have the best intentions, caring for a senior loved one with dementia can be challenging. Fortunately, Home Care Assistance is here to help. We are a leading provider of dementia care. Colorado Springs families can take advantage of our flexible and customizable care plans, and our caregivers always stay up to date on the latest developments in senior care. For more information about our flexible, customizable home care plans, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (719) 822-1229.


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