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Dementia, Senior Drivers and "The Talk"

There are many obstacles a family caring for a senior will face when their loved one is diagnosed with dementia. Often, even before needing companion care services, diminished driving capabilities will arise.

While in the very early stages of dementia, an inflicted person can, at times, maintain the ability to drive and enjoy independent living. Though, with dementia being a progressive disease, deciding when the ability to drive has diminished to the point requiring alternative driving services, can be a difficult topic for any family member or friend, to manage.

So when is the right time to have "The Talk?"

Sunlight Care can help you and your family navigate through the difficult and stressful events associated with dementia care. When it comes to caring for a senior with dementia who still drives, we advise against waiting for that first accident or for that first “I’m lost” call, before having the conversation.

Sadly, you don't need to look further than your local towns for examples of families that waited too long. Cherry Hill, Moorestown, and Haddonfield all have examples of accidents, some serious, involving elderly impaired drivers.

Besides the possible physical injuries to your senior or others, losing the ability to drive can result in feelings of depression, frustration, and hopelessness; which may erode your relationship with them, adding great strain to your family's experience with dementia care.

When it comes to impaired driving, we have put together the following suggestions:

  • In preparing for "the talk", we recommend to take time to plan. Check out what elderly public transportation services are available in the local area; from Haddonfield / Cherry Hill to Moorestown, there are many options in New Jersey.

    Also, look for alternative driving services for seniors, such as Uber and Lyft. Sunlight Care will even help your senior schedule these services.
  • Our own Elderly Companion Care Program has been an invaluable resource to families and is one of our top programs for help with elderly patients facing driving issues.
  • It's best to plan how you will approach the subject of impaired driving before bringing it up. You want to think about how the situation looks from the driver's point of view, and to consider the values your loved one holds for driving.
  • When it is time to have "the talk", take a few deep breaths and make sure you are in a good mental place. This will help you stay calm and avoid opposition. Do your best to stay positive and supportive. We have found it very useful to focus on the driver's skills, instead of their age.
  • Keep in mind, that with dementia care and companion care, conversations like these often need to happen more than once. It is best to continually seek opportunities when your loved one exhibits clarity-of-thought to repeat the conversation.
  • Another good approach is in shifting the emphasis to safety and appealing to a sense of responsibility, which often results in better responses and less stressful outcomes when caring for a senior. Your loved one usually will agree that they would not want to have an accident that could cause serious injury (or a fatality) to someone else.

Seeking outside resources for dementia care can not only help eliminate family stress, it can help reinforce your position or even help you find the best way to start the conversation. For example, Moorestown, NJ has many fantastic family physicians to help you talk to your loved one about this important topic.

Remember you do not have to do this alone. Sunlight Care can often provide resources and programs, like alternative driving services, to help alleviate the stress and confusion when your family member's needs increase. Whether they live in Moorestown, Haddonfield or any of the surrounding areas, we can help, by providing completely customized and affordable solutions for your loved one.

505 S. Lenola Rd, Suite 111
Moorestown, NJ 08057
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