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Swiss Med Wkly. 2011 Jan 17;140:w13136. doi: 10.4414/smw.2011.13136. eCollection 2011.

Cognition and driving in older persons.

Author information

1
Division of Geriatrics, Department of General Internal Medicine, Inselspital and University of Bern, Switzerland.

Abstract

In Switzerland, approximately 350,000 people aged 70 years or older own a valid driving license. By law, these drivers are medically assessed every other year, most commonly by their general practitioner, to exclude that a medical condition is interfering with their driving skills. A prerequisite for driving is the integration of high-level cognitive functions with perception and motor function. Ageing, per se, does not necessarily impair driving or increase the crash risk. However, medical conditions, such as cognitive impairment and dementia, become more prevalent with advancing age and may contribute to poor driving and an increased crash risk. The extent to which driving skills are impaired depends on the cause of dementia, disease severity, other co-morbidities and individual compensation strategies. Dementia often remains undiagnosed and therefore general practitioners (GPs) can find themselves in the difficult situation to disclose a suspicion about cognitive impairment and queries about medical fitness to drive, at the same time. In addition, the literature suggests that cognitive screening tests, most commonly used by GPs, have a limited role in judging whether an older person remains fit to drive. Further specialist assessment, for example in a memory clinic or on the road testing (ORT), may be helpful when the diagnosis or its implication for driving remain unclear. Here, we review the literature about cognition and driving, for GPs who advise older drivers who wish to continue driving.

PMID:
21240690
DOI:
10.4414/smw.2011.13136
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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