In the US, over 61% of elderly people with Alzheimer's continue to drive

In the US, over 61% of elderly people with Alzheimer's continue to drive

The majority of older adults with cognitive impairment continue to drive, despite concerns raised by relatives and caregivers, a University of Michigan Medical School study conducted in a South Texas community found. The researchers evaluated more than 600 adults over the age of 65 in Nueces County, Texas, who obtained cognitive assessment scores that indicated a likelihood of deficits.

I study

Of those people with cognitive impairment, 61.4% were still drivers, and about a third of caregivers had concerns about their client's driving. The results were published in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. About one in nine Americans age 65 and older, or 6.7 million people, is estimated to have Alzheimer's disease, and millions more have other related forms of dementia. These conditions can affect neuropsychological and visual abilities, reducing the ability to drive safely.

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A 2017 review of road crash risks found that dementia has on average high effects on driving impairment and that people with dementia are more likely to fail a driving test than those without it. Initially, the researchers set out to study the prevalence of driving among Latino and non-Latino white older adults, but found no significant differences between the two populations.

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The caregivers

However, the more severe an individual's cognitive impairment, the less likely they were to drive. Just over 35% of caregivers expressed concern about their client's ability to drive safely, even though many study participants limited their total driving hours and avoided driving at night or in the rain. Discussions between caregivers and people with cognitive impairment about driving are difficult, with concerns about loss of autonomy and possible embarrassment.

When a person with cognitive impairment stops driving, this can also increase the caregiver's workload. Researchers suggest that it is best to initiate conversations about driving early, when the care recipient is able to understand and actively participate in the discussion.

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