Living with dementia

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Travelling by car

Transportation in a car or other vehicle should ensure both the safety and emotional comfort of the person with Alzheimer's disease or other dementia.

Someone with Alzheimer's disease or other dementia may have difficulty getting in and out of a car. As the dementia progresses, perceptual problems may develop, often making it difficult for the person to recognize differing depths. As confusion increases, the person might lose the ability to follow the steps it takes to get in and out of a car.

The following steps may help you ensure the safety and comfort of the person with dementia when travelling by car. These steps may also help make the process easier for you, the caregiver, as well as the person you are caring for:

  • Park your vehicle on a flat surface, a fair distance from the curb, leaving enough room for the person to step onto the street and to be able to turn to sit.
  • Move the front seat back as far as possible so there is lots of room to move. The front seat of the car is often more accessible than the rear seats.
  • Clothing may stick to car seats made of velour or cloth. Try covering the car seat with more slippery material, such as a sheet of plastic, to ease movement and shifting. Open the front door first; turn the person around so that his buttocks are facing the inside of the car. Hold the person's hands in yours, or place his left hand on the door and his right hand on the back of the door frame. Back the person up until the backs of his legs are touching the car seat.
  • Ensure the person's feet are outside of the car and firmly on the ground; guide the person to sit sideways on the seat.
  • Once seated, direct the person to pull in his left leg, and then his right. Once his legs are inside, the person can shift or swivel around to face the front of the car. Direct the person to slide toward the back of the seat.
  • Buckle up.
  • If the person attempts to remove the seatbelt while driving, turn the seatbelt inside out so that the buckle is not easily accessible.

Last Updated: 08/19/15
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