Driving Cessation and Dementia: A Proactive Approach to Mandatory Reporting

January 12, 2018 | Aging Services Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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​Driving cessation is inevitable for individuals who exhibit symptoms of dementia, and raising the topic with the patient can be difficult for providers, the individual, and his or her family members, whether or not the diagnosis requires reporting to the state's public health officer or state department of motor vehicles. According to an article published in the November/December 2017 issue of Annals of Long-Term Care, most states rely on providers voluntarily reporting individuals who have physical and mental impairments; a few have mandatory reporting laws, though those that do often carry hefty consequences for providers who do not comply in the interest of public safety. However, in cases of mild cognitive impairment, mandatory reporting can be seen as ageist and unfair because providers are not required to report other types of impairment, such as drug and alcohol addiction. Nevertheless, conversations around driving cessation usually begin when the person first shows signs or symptoms of impairment—a time when the individual or family members may resist the idea or reject the diagnosis. The article suggests that a proactive approach can help mitigate unintended consequences of mandatory reporting and help individuals adjust to driving cessation.

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