If you are reading this blog chances are good that you know someone with AD. And if that someone is still driving you have probably wondered if that was a good idea or not. Giving up the car is a huge step, and in the eyes of the patient, it's a step in the wrong direction. We have crossed this bridge with our parents; with our mom three years ago and with our dad two years ago. Our mom did not put up much of a fight, but our dad took us to the mat over it for an entire summer.
At the time we were struggling with the driving decision, our parents were seeing a geriatric psychiatrist. He had a simple rule: if they can't draw a clock, they should not be driving. Apparently there is a strong and direct connection between the spatial abilities needed to accurately draw the clock and the ability to safely navigate the road. Even though my parents didn't drive far or to unfamiliar places, a simple detour on one of the familiar roads would be enough to confuse them and make it difficult for them to find their way home. Neither of my parents could draw the clock, so we knew that their driving days were over. Luckily we were referred to a wonderful organization called Keeping Us Safe (www.keepingussafe.org) and the owner, Matt Gurwell, was able to explain to our parents (mainly our dad) that the risks of driving just weren't worth the freedom it provided. He emphasized that an accident caused by our dad's driving could cost him all of the money that he worked so hard to save. Even worse, he could wind up in jail. So reluctantly our dad handed over the keys. He was (and still is) mad about this, but we know it was the right decision.
So if you're thinking that the car need to disappear from someone's house, ask them to draw a clock. If they can't do it, time's up.
Again, a humorous aside. When the doctor asked our mom to draw a clock indicating 3:00, she simply drew a circle and wrote 3:00 in the center. Digital. So much easier!