People with dementia need support when hanging up the keys – Innovita Research

People with dementia need support when hanging up the keys

We as human want to be mobile. We want to move around, see things and meet people. And a car is a great way to do that. However, once you reach a certain age you really shouldn‘t be driving. But that is such a difficult change. Scientists from the University of Queensland have launched a program called CarFreeMe, which is aiming to support older people in hanging up the keys.

Drive as long as you can – people with dementia feel isolated when they have to quit driving. Image credit: Santeri Viinamäki via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Driving is a huge part of life. Some people just enjoy the sensation of driving, while others just like getting to places independently. Regardless of your reasons, eventually you will have to hang up the keys and stop driving. That is because older people cannot see very well, have longer reaction times and, sadly, often suffer from dementia. Due to these reasons driving becomes dangerous to them and to other people on the road. However, quitting driving results in isolation – some people become house-bound and this is where this program is so important. CarFreeMe was designed to educate people who cannot drive anymore and their families about how to stay active and avoid depression and anxiety associated with decreased mobility.

Preparation to hang up the keys should begin while people with dementia are still driving. They should start developing alternative habits, such as using public transport. That is, of course, only in early stages of the condition, while it is still safe to move around the city. This allows making the change a bit more gradually, which decreases stress and allows getting used to new modes of mobility. Of course, family members have to provide support during this important transition. They should help elderly retain an ability to go out of the house and meet people.

CarFreeMe is very local. People with dementia aged 65 years and older can participate in the 7 week program, during which tailored solutions are going to be developed. Dr Theresa Scott, one of the scientists behind this program, said: “For people who have stopped driving, the study provides tailored information for alternative mobility support services so they can continue to be actively engaged within their communities”. However, lessons are universal – you have to take these simple steps wherever your older relatives live.

Dementia is a debilitating condition, which, sadly, affects a major portion of the aging population. Driving is not something to be taken lightly – it is very easy to cause an accident. That is why you should provide all the support to people around you who are about to stop driving for good.


Source: University of Queensland