Drivers with Alzheimer’s disease show neurocognitive limitations, especially in the area of executive function, which may lead to aimless driving and higher risk of an accident.
VANCOUVER—Patients with Alzheimer’s disease exhibit neurocognitive deficits that diminish their safety on the road, despite scoring as well as or better than unimpaired drivers on written tests of driving knowledge, researchers reported at the 2012 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.
“The important question becomes, at what degree do we compromise safety for the preservation of autonomy?” said Rex Cannon, PhD, Director of the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at Cole Neuroscience Center, Memory Disorder Clinic in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Neurocognitive Evaluations for Safety
Dr. Cannon and his colleagues conducted a study to determine which neurocognitive evaluations best predict unsafe driving in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Forty-four persons completed a battery of neurocognitive assessments that included the Mini-Mental State Examination, the Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System (D-KEFS), and the Computer Self Test.
The 44 participants were categorized into three subgroups based on age and Alzheimer’s disease status. One subgroup had 30 participants ages 18 to 27, and a second subgroup included seven persons ages 55 to 90 who were experiencing normal aging. A third subgroup comprised seven patients ages 55 to 90 with early Alzheimer’s disease.