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When and Why Should Drivers with Cognitive Impairment Stop Driving (And How to Delay It)

Posted Feb 21 2012 5:44pm

Ontario says tougher rules expected for drivers with dementia (Toronto Star):

- “In the wake of a Star series on drivers with cognitive impairment, Chiarelli predicted there will be a “tightening across the board” of the system that allows many seniors with dementia to drive unchecked.”

- “The ministry is considering making the following changes: better training for family doctors on reporting cognitively impaired patients who drive; more rigorous on-road testing of senior drivers; and the introduction of graduated licensing for some seniors who, like teenage drivers, would not be allowed to drive at night or on 400-series highways.”

This is going to be a touch policy and conversation to have in the USA. Which is why we should pay real attention, and resources, to developing and implementing interventions that can help extend perceptual/ cognitive functionality required for safe driving. See this recent study.

Study: Cognitive Speed of Processing Training Can Promote Community Mobility among Older Adults: A Brief Review . (Journal of Aging Research).

Abstract:  Community mobility is crucial for maintaining independent functioning and quality of life for older adults. Purpose. The present paper describes the relationship of cognition, particularly speed of processing as measured by the Useful Field of View Test, to mobility as indicated by driving behaviors, life space, and falls among healthy older adults. Research examining the impact of cognitive speed of processing training (SOPT) on older adults’ community mobility (i.e., driving behaviors) is also summarized. Key Issues. Even slight cognitive declines can place older adults at risk for mobility limitations. However, cognitive interventions like SOPT can mitigate declines in driving mobility. Implications. The potential of SOPT to sustain community mobility among older adults is discussed.

Conclusion: …In conclusion, even among older adults without dementia, evidence-based cognitive training programs like SOPT should be considered for the goals of maintaining and possibly enhancing mobility among older adults. Such interventions have great potential to preserve independence and quality of life with advancing age.

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