Caregiver Tips: Driving and FTD

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Driving is a cognitively demanding activity; for people with FTD, it can be especially difficult. While a diagnosed person in early FTD may be able to continue driving, the progression of FTD may make safe driving a concern. Eventually, many caregivers and those living with FTD reach a point where they must make the difficult decision to stop driving.

Where possible, it is beneficial for care partners and persons diagnosed to have discussions about any concerns and consider alternative options for independence that can maintain a high quality of life.

If you reach a point where you must make that difficult decision and your loved one diagnosed is not in agreement, it is important to avoid being confrontational. FTD can impair one’s awareness of their own condition (a symptom also known as anosognosia), which can make it difficult to recognize that FTD has impaired their ability to perform everyday tasks.

Try to approach winding down driving privileges as a process rather than a single, immediate decision. Here are some ways to start that process:

  • Document concerning changes, such as forgetting to stop at traffic signals or having difficulty judging the distance between cars. Bring this documentation to a healthcare provider to help in judging the severity of impairments and recommend next steps.
  • Consider taking part in an independent driving evaluation to assess the direct effects of FTD on driving. Such services are offered by DMVs and driving rehabilitation schools, or through companies such as AAA. Tell the evaluator about FTD to give them context for the evaluation (try sharing AFTD’s FTD Fact Sheet with them).
  • Address triggers that could cause frustration at being unable to drive. If the individual with FTD likes going to the movies every Saturday and would miss going, you can offer to drive them instead. It could also help to find ways to make these trips more special, such as including other family and friends in the routine.
  • If necessary, try to make environmental alterations to deter driving, such as removing the vehicle as a temptation, or changing the location where keys are stored

Addressing driving difficulties can be difficult for both care partners and people with FTD. If you need advice on how to approach this topic, reach out to the AFTD HelpLine at 1-866-507-7222 or info@theaftd.org.

For more guidance, visit the Driving and FTD section of AFTD’s website.

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