Tim Tholen, CEO and Founder of Thoughtful Health Care and its affiliates in Kansas City has had to answer a very important question from clients for many years. When—and how—do we take the car keys away? In the video, “When Driving Becomes Dangerous,” Tim helps identify and address some of these issues to help family members take control of a potentially dangerous situation.
Dementia and Driving
As Americans—and especially as Americans living in the Midwest—driving is a big part of our daily lives. Driving represents independence and freedom. It’s how we get our groceries, see our family, do the things we need to do every day.
But at some point for people with dementia, driving needs to come to a hard stop.
When do we make the leap and take the keys away? Here are some signals that the time is right:
- Talking about going home when the person lives at home. Home can mean a lot of things to different people. It’s common for someone with dementia to begin to spend more time talking about the past. If your loved one tries to find “home” outside of the home, it’s time to take the car keys to prevent them from driving somewhere unknown.
- Talking about going to work when work is long over. Again, this is a signal that the loved one will begin to seek out a work place that no longer exists.
- If he or she admits that driving is nerve-wracking. This is an opportunity to have the conversation about finding other solutions.
- Notice if the loved one has trouble while driving– drifting into other lanes, forgetting the destination etc…
- Medications may have warning labels that indicate that it’s time to let someone else take the wheel.
Look for the opportunity to talk about driving. Any of the above indicators could signal the need for the conversation. Don’t expect this conversation to be easy; be firm, stick to your convictions. Focus on the safety of your loved one, and mention that other drivers and pedestrians may be at risk. Hiding the keys may be a good option, or else unplugging the car battery, or changing the garage door code.
Regardless of how you decide to manage this issue, it’s an indicator that your loved one may need more care. Our professional caregivers at Thoughtful Care are here to support your family in caring for a loved one at home. Please feel free to contact us for more information.
Watch the “When Driving Becomes Dangerous” video below:
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