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J Gen Intern Med. 1992 Nov-Dec;7(6):583-8.

Driving and Alzheimer's disease.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle 98195.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To examine the driving status of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients presenting to a geriatric clinic, and to investigate the ability of brief cognitive assessment measures to identify those who are no longer able to continue driving safely.

DESIGN:

Based on caregivers' reports of driving status, AD patients were divided into three groups: those who were still driving with no difficulty, those still driving but having difficulty, and those who had stopped driving due to their cognitive problems. Scores on commonly used cognitive tests were compared across groups. Age, gender, and duration of dementia were also investigated.

SETTING:

The University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC) outpatient Geriatric and Family Services Clinic.

PARTICIPANTS:

One hundred consecutive patients who met DSM-III-R criteria for primary degenerative dementia and were either currently driving or had stopped driving due to cognitive deficits.

MEASUREMENT AND MAIN RESULTS:

Twenty-two subjects were reportedly still driving with no difficulty, 23 were still driving with difficulty, and 55 were no longer driving. Both mental status screening and functional assessments were significantly different between drivers and nondrivers, as were scores on a visual-spatial task. In addition, gender and age distinguished the groups: younger drivers and men drivers were less likely to stop driving despite significant cognitive impairment.

CONCLUSIONS:

Given the large number of AD patients who continue to drive and who experience problems with driving, this investigation highlights the need for assessment of driving safety as part of a clinical dementia evaluation. In addition, the results suggest a combination of cognitive and functional measures that may be helpful in identifying patients who are at greatest risk for unsafe driving.

PMID:
1453241
DOI:
10.1007/bf02599195
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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