When making a car journey can be difficult when driving with a person with dementia as a passenger. A not every person with dementia travels well and you often find that one car journey is never the same as the last.
A trip to the shops in the car can be a simple journey with no problems one day and then the next trip can turn into a battle of wills between the driver and the passenger. You can follow these tips to help make your journey as easy as possible.
Tips when driving with a person with dementia in a car
Always keep the journey relaxed and enjoyable at all times. Try to use the car for taking the person to places they enjoy. That way, the person does not always associate the car with a stressful journey.
1. Try to keep the car keys out of sight.
2. Always try to tell the person where you are going, unless this is upsetting for the person.
3. Don’t allow the person to drive. If they insist on driving inform the person that they have no insurance or the doctor says they are unable to drive. Chances are that if they have been medically diagnosed with dementia that they will be disqualified from driving a car.
4. Help the person into the car, take care with the roof when the head is put into the car, you may also need to assist on the seat belt. Seat belts and watching your head are simple things to most people but these can be routine hazards if you are suffering from dementia. If the person has limited ability then you could try to use a car swivel seat to help them in and out of the car
5. Use a child safety lock on the passenger side door of the car to stop the person opening the door from the inside of the vehicle.
6. If you have problems getting the person out of the car once you have arrived, then try driving around for a short time before trying again. If it is a problem you may have to ask for help from the day care staff if you are visiting or with the help of gentle persuasion.
Driving with a person with dementia sometimes takes practice
You should never use force or threatening words when driving with a person with dementia. If the experience is just too much for you then you may have to abandon the car journey for that day and try again later.
When you arrive home you may have the same problem of getting the person out of the car as you might experience when taking the individual somewhere. A little gentle trickery is sometimes needed if the person has memory loss. Ask the person to knock on the door, or try their keys if they are unconvinced that this is their house. You will soon find what works and what doesn’t.
If you want to know more information on the laws surrounding a person who has dementia and their ability to drive a car please have a look at the DVLA website for guidlines on driving with various medical conditions including dementia.