Mobility issues for drivers with dementia
The Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) identified that increasing numbers of older people with dementia need to be considered within transportation and licencing systems. RACV commissioned ARRB Group (ARRB) to investigate issues affecting drivers with dementia. A literature review was conducted to investigate the different types of dementia; road safety issues; the rate of progression of cognitive decline; and health professional and carer roles when supporting drivers with dementia. An evaluation of current information resources, services and programs was also completed. Interviews with key stakeholders in health, research and advocacy were undertaken, to seek expert opinions on the challenges related to safe driving. Dementia can present with varying types of cognitive impairment and individuals differ in how they experience the effects of the disease. Cognitive impairments become more severe over time, with the eventual need for all drivers with dementia to cease driving. Driver assessments and licence restrictions may be helpful for some individuals during the early stages of the disease. A number of gaps exist between the needs of people with dementia and their carers, and available community resources and services. This research highlighted the need for (a) more community and health professional education regarding road safety risks, driver assessment and licensing options (b) better integration of services, and (c) discussion of licensing and safety issues earlier in the disease process. The challenge of gradually phasing drivers with dementia to alternative and less ‘independent’ forms of mobility is also presented.