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My Loved One with Dementia Mistook the Gas Pedal for the Break Pedal

As suggested in an article on WebMD by Donald J. Iverson, MD of the Humboldt Neurological Medical Group, Inc., in Eureka, California, about 4 million Americans have some level of dementia and most of them will have to stop driving at some point [i]. Families have to make difficult and emotional decisions as loved ones age, and sometimes keeping people safe whose memory is failing them, means causing them to lose autonomy.

For many individuals, the ability to drive and have independence feels like their last shred of individuality, and once it’s gone they feel like completely different people. There isn’t a black and white answer that tells when a person has crossed the line to becoming a danger on the road, until sadly, a frightening incident causes decisions to become clear.

Identifying Unsafe Drivers

A very effective way to recognize unsafe drivers is a standard test called the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) scale. A doctor administers the test, along with participation from family members and caregivers. The CDR evaluates people’s memory and problem-solving abilities, along with their capability to perform self-care.

Warning Signs

Sometimes when you are close to a person and intimately involved in the situation, it can be easy to minimize signs of dementia and think that everything is okay when it’s not. The following are signs that someone you love is not capable of driving a vehicle safely and is a danger to others on the roads:

  • Accidents occur when he or she drives.
  • Traffic Tickets or moving violations
  • Reduction in overall driving
  • Avoidance of certain driving conditions like nighttime or poor weather
  • Aggressive anger toward other drivers or “road rage”

Tavares Car Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident involving someone who has or is exhibiting signs of dementia, the experienced attorneys at Oldham & Smith can provide guidance and representation. To speak directly with a lawyer call (352) 292-1620 or fill out our contact form.

[i] Laino, C. (2010, April 13). When Should Dementia Patients Stop Driving? Retrieved January 5, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/news/20100413/when-should-dementia-patients-stop-driving

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