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Parkinson’s Disease: Driving a Car

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How to Ease the Transition

Frank discussions with family members and doctors are often enough to convince people with Parkinson’s disease to modify their driving. Some people may need additional input from a support group, lawyer, or financial planner to ease the transition.

Some people with Parkinson's disease can continue driving under strict guidelines, although the long-term goal will still be to eventually stop driving. Guidelines for limited driving may include:

  • Drive only on familiar roads
  • Limit drives to short trips
  • Avoid rush-hour traffic and heavily traveled roads
  • Restrict drives to daylight hours during good weather

It’s important for family and friends to find ways to help their loved one reduce their need to drive. These include arranging for groceries, meals, and prescriptions to be delivered to the home, or for barbers or hairdressers to come to the home.

It’s also important to help your loved one become accustomed to using alternate methods of transportation, such as:

  • Rides from family and friends
  • Taxi cabs
  • Shuttle vans and buses
  • Public buses, trains, and subways
  • Walking

The Yellow Pages and Internet are good sources for organizations that provide transportation services to seniors. You can find the names and telephone numbers of such organizations by looking under the headings “transportation” or “community services.” You can also find the nationwide directory assistance service Eldercare Locator at http://www.eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Index.aspx  or call 800-677-1166 to locate local agencies that provide transportation for people with special needs.

If your loved one refuses to voluntarily limit or stop driving, despite a demonstrated need to do so, you may need to take more aggressive steps, such as:

  • Hiding the car keys
  • Disabling the car
  • Either selling the car or moving it out of sight
  • Contacting your local DVM

Make sure your loved one's doctor is aware of your concerns. He or she should be able to help.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on March 26, 2013
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