By Julie Schomer 5/29/24

Dealing with a loved one who has dementia and has had their driver’s license taken away can be challenging. Here are some strategies to help manage this situation. Denial is a common and natural response, but maintaining their safety and the safety of others must remain the top priority. Balancing compassion with firmness can help manage this challenging situation.

  1. Empathy and Patience

Understand that the loss of driving can be a significant blow to their independence. Approach the topic with empathy and patience.

  1. Clear and Repeated Communication

Explain the reasons for the decision in simple, clear terms. Use examples to illustrate safety concerns for themselves and others. Be prepared to repeat the conversation multiple times as necessary

  1. Use Authority Figures (if person is in denial)

Sometimes hearing the advice from a doctor or another respected authority figure can have a stronger impact. Schedule an appointment where the doctor can explain the reasons and importance of not driving

  1. Safety Emphasis

Frame the conversation around safety, both for them and for others. Use real-life examples if possible, to illustrate the potential dangers.

  1. Alternate Transportation

Arrange for alternative transportation options such as family members, friends, taxis, ride-sharing services, or community transport programs designed for seniors.

  1. Consistent Messaging

Ensure that everyone involved in their care is on the same page and consistently reinforces the same message about the importance of not driving.

  1. Reduce Access to the Car

Disable the vehicle temporarily by removing the keys, disconnecting the battery, or even selling the car if it’s a viable option. Ensure this is done respectfully and explained as a safety measure.

Above all – patience and compassion go a long way.  Denial is often a coping mechanism for dealing with the loss of independence.