Do You Know Someone With Dementia That Drives?

Do You Know Someone With Dementia That Drives?
Diane's Mom Driving -Illustration from the new resource guide "Your Senior Housing Options."

Diane’s Mom Driving -Illustration from the new resource guide “Your Senior Housing Options.”

What about you? Does one of your loved ones have dementia and still drive? Dementia drivers are jeopardizing other citizens walking in crosswalks and driving.

My father-in-law was driving with a diagnosis of macular degeneration. He justified his actions by only driving in the daytime and limiting himself to a 5-mile radius to run errands and go the doctor. As his dementia progressed he got lost driving home within this radius. He chose to give up driving on his own.

A friend told me about my mother driving several years ago. They said, “I saw your mom driving today, she can’t even see over the steering wheel. She is looking through the steering wheel in order to see the road.” I was horrified. This was completely unsafe. I still vividly remember the last time I drove with my mom. She was straddling two lanes (on the same side of the road). She said, “Diane, I know this looks bad, but I know exactly what I am doing.” I was terrified.  It was the beginning  of her dementia.

A resident of a senior living community drove into another resident’s balcony. As he was parking the car, the senior hit the gas instead of the brake. After backing up, he made the same mistake again and rammed the balcony a second time. Afterwards, he was disoriented and could not remember how the accident happened or why he hit the gas twice. He did not give up his car keys after this incident. The resident whose balcony was destroyed requested to have the parking place right outside his apartment home, because he did not want a repeat performance.

All these senior driving circumstances have made me a better defensive driver. Many people are concerned about teenage drivers, but what about seniors with dementia? No senior wants to give up the keys to the car and lose their independence.  Senior housing choices that provide transportation can be a good choice for a senior who should not be driving.

Do you feel that a son or daughter should make a mom or dad give up the car keys if they are putting others at risk? What will be the trigger event to make the decision of no more driving – hitting a curb, a fender bender, or a fatal car accident?

What should the doctor’s role be in this process? Have you had the “car talk conversation” with yourself, your spouse, or your parent? How did it go? What about senior living providers who have residents that are driving unsafely in their parking lots? What did you do?

Seniors, Boomer children, spouses, family members and caregivers are desperate to learn how to truly differentiate good senior housing from mediocre at best. Diane Masson’s new book will answer these heart-wrenching issues in an easy, simple, story telling format with humorous illustrations. She has represented multiple styles of senior housing for 16 years and has sought all levels of senior housing care for her mother and stubborn German in-laws.

“Your Senior Housing Options” is a new resource book available on with a 5-star rating. It offers a step-by-step guide to the options, including staying home. Don’t wait until you’re in a health care crisis like author Diane Masson’s in-laws. Learn how to plan ahead like Masson’s mom. Research your future choices NOW to avoid being “put” somewhere, or having decisions made for you by others.

For weekly tips and advice go to and learn more from author and senior housing expert Diane Twohy Masson.