Having a dementia diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up driving right away.
If you, or a loved one, want to continue driving, you need to inform the DVLA once the diagnosis has been made. The DVLA will request information from a consultant or GP and its medical advisors will decide on whether the person can continue to drive or not.
A person with dementia’s driving licence may be renewed for a specific amount of time. A driving assessment will be requested, or the licence will be cancelled if the person is not deemed fit to drive.
If you do not inform the DVLA and continue driving, you could be fined £1,000. Insurance providers must also be notified straight away.
You may decide to surrender the licence if you feel unable to cope with a loss of coordination or find it difficult to recall directions.
Those of us who can drive often take it for granted. We can hop in the car and get from A to B with no worry.
Having a licence cancelled or surrendering a licence because of a dementia diagnosis can leave a person feeling a loss of freedom and independence. It can also affect their self-worth.
The benefits of not driving
It’s important to know that not being able to drive doesn’t mean that travel isn’t possible. Public transport is a great way for people with dementia to continue getting out and about.
It’s also much cheaper than paying regularly for car tax, MOT, insurance and petrol. Using public transport is often much more sociable too, you never know who you might get chatting to on the bus or train.
Many bus drivers and train attendants have received training in dementia awareness and can discreetly provide assistance if needed.
You can still be involved in the planning of a trip even if you aren’t the driver. Plan day trips with friends or family. Enjoy being in the passenger seat, without the stress of dealing with roads and other car users.
If you’re unable to drive, then walking is great exercise. It can help with getting out of the house and clearing the mind, which is a great benefit. Read more about the benefits of walking here.