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Human Services

Posted on: October 20, 2020

Help for families navigating dementia and driving discussions

alzheimer's and driving

Many people drive for years avoiding accidents and traffic citations. It’s a skill that demands attention, concentration, physical coordination and quick decision making. When cognitive abilities begin to decline in a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, how do you decide when it’s safe for them to stop driving? 

Pierce County Aging and Disability Resources is offering “Alzheimer’s and Driving,” a workshop designed to help families navigate this difficult decision. This presentation highlights how the development of Alzheimer’s and other dementias may impact driving. Participants will learn safety tips and conversation techniques to help identify red flag warnings. 

The one-hour presentation will be offered two times in November, both online and by telephone: 

A choice like this is not easy for adult children, family members and friends to make. They may notice subtle changes while riding with a loved one with Alzheimer’s or see unexplained scratches or dents on a car. This decision is difficult for many reasons, but especially for the person with dementia, as symptoms typically develop slowly, almost imperceptibly.

“For families dealing with Alzheimer’s, one of the most dreaded conversations is that around driving,” said Aaron Van Valkenburg, Pierce County Aging and Disability Resources manager. “A person with dementia may perceive giving up driving as a loss of independence, another step in a long line of losses. In our culture, having a car and driving when and where we want to go is a part of who we are. But for a family aware of the risks posed by continued driving, there may be a strong need for driving to end.”

Maggie Christofferson from the Washington State Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association will be presenting. This event is free, and no RSVP is required to attend. For more information call the Aging and Disability Resource Center at 253-798-4600.

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Bob Riler, Pierce County Aging & Disability Resources
[email protected]

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