Health Watch - Alzheimer's Disease: Driving

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’ve been talking about Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers are working on ways to detect and treat the disease, but in the meantime, patients and their loved ones have to learn to cope with the effects. One of the biggest impacts of the disease is its effect on a person’s independence.

Alzheimer’s disease can affect reactions and decision-making ability, so patients may eventually not be able to drive, but restrictions don’t have to start immediately. Kristin Martin-Cook, clinical research coordinator of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says it helps to make the important decisions early, while the patient can still participate in the discussion. While the patient is still driving, moderate restrictions may be in order, like limiting driving to certain destinations or times of day. Caregivers should watch for physical changes that could affect safety. When the time comes to take away the keys, enlist the help of a health-care provider. 

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November 2010


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