Elderly Drivers and Cognitive Impairment

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The number of licensed drivers over 65 years old increases as the nations population ages. Many states have debated how to deal with those whose cognitive or physical impairments make them a danger to themselves and others on the road. Dr. Edward Hill discusses this issue in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

Cognitive impairment is defined as decline in at least one of the following areas: short-term memory, attention, orientation, judgment and problem-solving skills, and visual-spatial skills.

Changes in any of these areas could affect a persons ability to drive any motor vehicle. About 4 percent of current drivers over 75 years old have dementia.

There is no standard test that can determine whether a person with cognitive impairment can drive safely. At the beginning of decline, a person may still be fully safe as a driver of motor vehicles.

Many people with mild cognitive impairment will not experience any further decline and will continue to be skilled, safe drivers. Others have progressive decline in memory and other cognitive functions.

If you suspect cognitive impairment in yourself or in a family member, early medical examination is important to ensure that driving safety is not reduced. Your physician may recommend limits on driving or a comprehensive driver evaluation before continuing to drive. Some medications can also affect your ability to drive.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.