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Families most concerned about dementia in older drivers

A survey has found people are most worried about the onset of dementia affecting the driving ability of older relatives.

A survey by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has found the greatest concern about the elderly driving is the onset of dementia. The survey of 1,297 respondents undertaken by Vision Critical revealed 46 per cent said it was their biggest concern.

42 per cent admitted they had tried to bring the issue up with a relative. 58 per cent said they actually avoided the topic of an elderly relative driving entirely, while 47 per cent said bringing it up with said relative ended badly.

The survey looked at driver concerns on a regional basis. Those from the East of the UK were the most worried about an older driver, with 51 per cent of respondents admitting so. Those from the East Midlands were the least worried, at 34 per cent.

“Staying healthy is the simplest way to ensure you are fit to drive but an independent and objective driving assessment will also help people make the right decision at the right time,” IAM chief exec Simon Best commented. “Families and friends need to be aware of the early warning signs of dementia and seek advice and medical help as soon as possible.”

Symptoms that an individual is no longer fit to drive include getting lost on familiar roads, straying across lanes, hitting kerbs, confusing the brake and accelerator, parking inappropriately, becoming angry of confused while driving, making slow or bad decisions and difficulty in judging speed, distance and space.

Concerns over older drivers is a hot topic. Only recently the government announced a move to up the driving licence renewal age from 70 to 80. Meanwhile IAM has called for a national strategy to address the problem of elderly drivers who are unfit to drive.

More than 820,000 people have Dementia in the UK ─ 17,000 of which are aged under 65 years old. Figures from the Alzheimer’s society suggest this figure will rise to more than 1 million by 2021. Dementia costs the UK £23 billion a year.

The UK is home to more than four million drivers aged over 70, according to the RAC Foundation.

Worried about a relative? The Still Safe To Drive website may be of use.

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