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Driving becomes increasingly difficult for those with Alzheimer's disease. People with Alzheimer's who continue to drive can be a danger to themselves, their passengers, and the community at large. As the disease progresses, the person loses driving skills and must stop driving. The doctor of a person with Alzheimer's disease can assist the family with the task of restricting driving. Some approaches include: hiding the car keys, asking the doctor to write to the Department of Motor Vehicles saying the person should no longer drive, and selling the car.

Alzheimer's and Driving: An Introduction

Driving is a complex activity that demands quick reactions, alert senses, and split-second decision-making. For a person with Alzheimer's disease, driving becomes increasingly more difficult because he or she may experience:
  • Memory loss
  • Impaired judgment
  • Disorientation
  • Impaired visual and spatial perception
  • Slow reaction time
  • Diminished attention span
  • Inability to recognize cues such as stop signs and traffic lights.


These deficits can make driving particularly hazardous.

People with Alzheimer's disease who continue to drive can be a danger to themselves, their passengers, and the community at large. As the disease progresses, they lose driving skills and must stop driving. Unfortunately, people with Alzheimer's disease often cannot recognize when they should no longer drive. This is a tremendous safety concern and it is extremely important to have the impaired person's driving abilities carefully evaluated.

Warning Signs of Unsafe Driving

Often, it is the caregiver, a family member, neighbor, or friend who becomes aware of the safety hazards. If a person with Alzheimer's disease experiences one of more of the following problems, it may be time to limit or stop driving. Does the person with Alzheimer's disease:
  • Get lost while driving in a familiar location?
  • Fail to observe traffic signals?
  • Drive at an inappropriate speed?
  • Become angry, frustrated, or confused while driving?
  • Make slow or poor decisions?
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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