Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) affects approximately 1.4 million Americans over the age of 60. This disease causes progressive cognitive decline that can manifest in all aspects of life. While you may not recognize the earliest Lewy Body Dementia stages, mid-to-late stage LBD symptoms will make themselves known. This type of dementia often affects memory and ability to concentrate, which will impact the individual’s ability to drive as the disease progresses. If you’re concerned about a loved one’s safety on the road, we share some signs to watch out for that indicate it’s time to transition toward transportation assistance. Giving up the freedom of driving independently is difficult for many older individuals, so we also share tips and resources to help you have this conversation.
Warning Signs That May Mean It’s Time to Stop Driving
As individuals age, it’s normal to expect changes to vision and response time. However, a diagnosis may accelerate changes to cognition and cause additional complications that will interfere with driving, such as hallucinations. To keep your loved one and other drivers safe on the road, be sure to keep an eye out for signs that indicate it’s time to limit or stop driving. Here are some warning signs to watch for carefully once your loved one has received a Lewy Body Dementia diagnosis:
- Becoming distracted while driving. Loss of concentration is one of the most common symptoms of mild cognitive decline, and the ability to concentrate will likely deteriorate with time.
- Damage to the vehicle. If you’re not able to ride in the car with your loved one on a regular basis, keep an eye out for dings, scrapes, or dents on the vehicle.
- Driving significantly under or over the speed limit. If you notice that the individual struggles to maintain the speed limit, this is a sign that he or she may need assistance with transportation in the near future.
If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms, it’s probably time to have a discussion about your loved one’s safety on the road. This is often a difficult conversation and many older individuals equate the loss of driving with a loss of independence. To help ensure that it’s a productive conversation that’s handled with care and compassion, be sure to:
- Begin the conversation while the individual is not driving.
- Stay calm and avoid taking an accusatory or condescending tone.
- Outline a plan for safe transportation. We live in a time when there are many transportation options, so your loved one will never have to feel stuck.
As your loved one progresses through the Lewy Body Dementia stages, it’s important to keep him or her (and other drivers) safe. Coping with a Lewy Body Dementia diagnosis can be challenging for all involved, but you don’t need to navigate the challenges alone. If you’re in need of support or resources to help your loved one, we’re here to help. When you’re ready to chat, please contact us via our helpline at 516-218-2026 or send us an email at any time.