Feb 3, 2012

Study Sheds New Light on Driving with Alzheimer's

More than 60 percent of drivers with dementia went missing while on a routine, familiar, and caregiver permitted trips.

By Carole B. Larkin
Alzheimer's Reading Room

I came across an interesting article in Care Advantage a magazine published specifically for caregivers of persons of Alzheimer’s and other cognitive diseases.

The magazine is FREE and is published 4 times a year by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. To get on the mailing list go to www.afacareadvantage.org.
 The article was on drivers with dementia, specifically studying why and how they get “lost driving their cars".

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They state that researchers at the College of Nursing at University of South Florida, Tampa, found that more than 60 percent of drivers with dementia in their study went missing while on a routine, familiar, and caregiver permitted trips that they had successfully handled in the past, including driving to medical appointments, restaurants, shopping and friends and family.

   "This is in stark contrast to the stereotype of lost drivers being able to find hidden keys or leave while the caregiver is unaware," said the lead researcher, Meredeth Rowe, Ph.D. RN, professor and Lewis and Leona Hughes Endowed Chair in Nursing Science.

    Other activities that resulted in a missing incident included driving a route that was out of the ordinary or driving away from home while agitated.

   Also of significance, males being cared for by spouses versus other family members were more likely to have an incident. This finding may be related to the fact that males have been the predominant family driver in those drivers aged 70 or older, the authors suggested.

My comment?

Verification that 100% of people getting lost had never done so before, and once lost, the chances of it happening again are equally high.  Let’s get this word out to caregivers, and see if any of their attitudes change towards letting their loved ones with dementia drive’ just in the neighborhood”.

Source: Help! I’m Driving and I Can’t Find My Way Home!

Carole Larkin MA,CMC,CAEd,QDCS,EICS,
is a Geriatric Care Manager who specializes in helping families with Alzheimer’s and related dementias issues. She also trains caregivers in home care companies, assisted livings, memory care communities, and nursing homes in dementia specific techniques for best care of dementia sufferers. ThirdAge Services LLC, is located in Dallas, TX.

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Original content Carole Larkin, the Alzheimer's Reading Room