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AAN: New Guideline Issued on Driving With Dementia

Updated recommendations offer advice on how to determine when patients should stop driving

TUESDAY, April 13 (HealthDay News) -- A new guideline issued by the American Academy of Neurology is intended to help physicians decide when a patient with Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia needs to stop driving. The guideline was published online April 12 in Neurology to coincide with its presentation at the Academy's annual meeting, held from April 10 to 17 in Toronto.

Donald J. Iverson, M.D., of the Humboldt Neurological Medical Group Inc. in Eureka, Calif., and colleagues updated the 2000 American Academy of Neurology guideline on driving with dementia.

To identify dementia patients at increased risk of unsafe driving, the guideline recommends use of the Clinical Dementia Rating scale, which offers physicians a tool to integrate information from caregivers and from direct examination to assess dementia severity. The guideline also advises caregivers to trust their judgment that a patient's driving is marginal or unsafe, and be aware of warning signs, such as decreased miles being driven, collisions, moving violations, avoiding certain driving situations (driving at night or in the rain), and aggressive or impulsive personality traits.

"It is important that the decision to stop driving be directed by a doctor who is trained and experienced in working with people with dementia and their families," Iverson said in a statement. "Doctors should be aware that assessing driving ability is a complex process. More than one source of information is needed to make a judgment. In some situations, a dementia specialist may be needed."

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