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Driving

Many people with a diagnosis of dementia worry that it might mean they can’t drive.  Alternatively, you might have already noticed you’re having some difficulties.  This page looks at what the law says about driving with dementia and how to continue driving for as long as possible. 

Can people living with dementia drive? 

Having a diagnosis of dementia does not necessarily mean you have to give up driving.  Each person living with dementia is different and you will experience different symptoms to the next person.  For some people, the symptoms are mild and don’t get in the way of your ability to drive safely. 

When you are diagnosed with dementia you will have already had a number of medical tests to look at your cognitive abilities.  In many cases, the doctor who diagnoses you will be able to tell you whether they think you should be able to continue driving or not.  In some cases, they might advise you to undergo further tests to assess your ability to drive.  

Whatever your situation, you must contact the DVLA and your car insurance provider to tell them that you have a diagnosis of dementia.  If you don’t tell the DVLA, you risk a fine of £1,000.  When the DVLA receives your notification of your diagnosis they will contact your GP for further information, before making a decision as to whether you can continue to drive.  

How to make driving easier 

If you have a diagnosis of dementia and you are continuing to drive, there are some things you can do to make things as easy for you as possible: 

  • Try to drive when conditions are good – drive during the day and try to avoid driving through the heavy rain or snow.  
  • Make most of your journeys to places you go to often – this will lower your chances of suddenly forgetting the way. 
  • Make shorter journeys – if you need to drive a long distance (e.g. to visit a relative), factor in plenty of time to take frequent breaks. 
  • Get your vision regularly checked – make sure you’re wearing glasses for long-distance if you have trouble reading road signs. 

Giving up driving 

If you no longer feel confident driving, or driving is becoming a source of frustration and worry, it is worth considering if it’s time to stop.  Giving up driving can be a big adjustment, so here are some things to look into:  

  • See what support you can get from family, friends or neighbours – perhaps someone could help you get into town or to the shops on a regular basis.
  • If this isn’t possible, check if there are any community transport schemes in your area 
  • Make sure you’re getting concessions on public transport – such as the free bus pass for over 65s, or the senior railcard for cheaper rail travel. 
  • You can ask for assistance on trains – including help with navigating station buildings and getting on and off the train. Call the number of the train company to book assistance on the day of your journey. 

Further resources 

Alzheimer’s society: Driving and dementia –  https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/staying-independent/driving-and-dementia

GOV.UK: Dementia and driving guidance – https://www.gov.uk/dementia-and-driving 

Young Dementia UK: Driving & travel – https://www.youngdementiauk.org/driving-travel 

You can make a positive difference for people in your community living with dementia and their carers by volunteering for Dementia Oxfordshire. Contact us to find out more.

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