Elderly people with failing memories often keep driving, but a study of Alzheimer’s patients suggests the risk of getting lost — even on familiar streets — may be greater than once thought.
Even with early dementia, there may be no safe period behind the wheel because the disease is unpredictable, said Linda Hunt, an associate professor in the School of Occupational Therapy at Pacific University, Oregon, and author of a new study.
“Alzheimer’s disease affects memory and navigational skills. These impairments may lead to getting lost, which is a life-threatening problem,” Hunt said. “Family members and friends of individuals with dementia need to recognize these impairments as serious threats to safety for anyone who has dementia.
“It is estimated that 30 to 45 percent of Alzheimer’s patients continue to drive after diagnosis.