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Research panel recommends dementia test to identify seniors who are unsafe behind the wheel

Category: General Health

Authorities with the American Academy of Neurology reported on Monday that a simple dementia test and the input of close family members are the two best ways to determine the appropriate time to take driving privileges away from senior citizens suffering from Alzheimer's disease or other forms of cognitive decline.

For the research, lead guideline author Donald Iverson and his colleagues analyzed 422 studies concerning driving and Alzheimer's disease or other variations of dementia.

After completing the investigation, the team concluded that physicians should utilize the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) scale to identify elder people who are no longer capable of safely operating a vehicle. The test involves a direct examination from a doctor and pertinent information provided by relatives.

"While patients with mild dementia, as a group, are higher-risk drivers, more recent studies report that as many as 76 percent are still able to pass an on-road driving test and can safely drive," said Iverson.

"Faced with these facts, we needed to provide guidelines for doctors caring for these patients to identify those people at higher risk of unsafe driving, without unnecessarily restricting those who are safe drivers," he added.

The researchers also noted that family members should trust their instincts and not let relatives drive if they appear to be unstable.
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