Dementia can impact on every aspect of a person’s life. One thing that many people worry about when they or a loved one are diagnosed with dementia is driving. Being able to drive gives people their independence and many are fearful of the prospect of giving up their license.

However, as dementia progresses, most will be forced to give up their cars. Knowing when to stop driving, and understanding how dementia can impact on your reflexes behind the wheel, will help to keep you safe and sound when you’re on the road.

Driving and dementia

Dementia can impact your driving in a number of ways. In some cases, it can increase your response times, making it hard to decide when to pull out, when to turn and when to stop. Other people may find that dementia makes it difficult to navigate their route, even when driving in places that are very familiar to them. This can make driving dangerous for people with dementia and can increase the chance they’ll be involved in an accident. This makes it incredibly important for people with dementia to monitor their health and give up their license when necessary.

What to do when you’re diagnosed with dementia

As soon as someone is diagnosed with dementia, they need to contact the DVLA and let them know about their condition. If the DVLA isn’t notified promptly, the person with dementia could incur a fine. People with dementia should also tell their insurer about their condition as failure to do so could result in an insurance policy being invalid.

Once you’ve notified the DVLA, you’ll need to fill out a questionnaire and give the DVLA permission to access your medical records. Once they have all the relevant information, the DVLA will decide whether or not you can continue to drive.

While some people may have their license revoked, others will have it renewed for another year. Alternatively, the DVLA may ask someone diagnosed with dementia to take part in a driving assessment before making a decision.

Continuing to drive

A lot of people with dementia continue to drive following their diagnosis. However, in some cases their doctor will recommend they stop driving immediately. This can happen in cases where the dementia is already advanced and when a person has other health issues, such as poor eyesight or hallucinations.

It’s vital to have a continuing dialogue with your GP about your condition and regularly review your processing and cognitive functions in relation to your ability to drive.

When to stop

Even if you have your licensed renewed, you may decide to stop driving before the year is up. If you feel unsafe behind the wheel, or if you can feel that your judgement or reaction times are slowing down, you may want to give up your license and rely on others for your transport needs instead.