Harvard Mental Health Letter

Alzheimer's and driving ability

Knowing when it may be time for someone to surrender the car keys.

As people grow older, their vision, hearing, reflexes, strength, flexibility, and coordination tend to deteriorate. These physical changes can undermine driving skills, such as being able to see and hear other vehicles, stop suddenly, navigate an intersection safely, or maintain control of a car. Alzheimer's disease only compounds age-related challenges by impairing memory, insight, and reasoning.

As Alzheimer's progresses, for instance, a patient may have trouble remembering how to get somewhere, or may become confused (such as stopping at a green light or stepping on the gas pedal instead of the brake).

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