Monday, August 17, 2009

Can people with dementia (or early Alzheimer's) continue to drive?

Can people with dementia (including early Alzheimer’s Disease) drive legally? I’ve heard people say, absolutely not, and a caregiver or guardian who allows any diagnosed with memory loss to drive risks prosecution for reckless endangerment.

However, I checked a couple of “reputable” places on the Web. The Hartford Insurance Group has such a site, and here is the reference.

Note that, while dementia presents a “catch 22” in assessment, there is some flexibility in how it is handled. Caregivers generally have some time to ease the patient out of driving and arrange alternatives.

Virginia law allows the DMV to require re-examination upon a report that a person is unfit. The most likely reason would probably be a police report after an accident (which might be too late). The web reference at "Ready Hands" is here. It might happen because of a physicians’ report in some states (but HIPAA figures in here).

Generally, however, it doesn’t seem to be the case that the presence of a particular DRG on the person’s medical records or even taking a memory-related drug automatically means the person can’t drive.

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