Driving with Dementia


Driving with Dementia


Description: Russ Caldwell left his home in Shamrock, Texas to visit his son in Meeker, Oklahoma. Reports indicate that Mr. Caldwell had last been seen in Meeker, Oklahoma around 11:20am on Thursday. The family believes this is when he became confused and tried to drive back to Texas. It was not until Friday that Lincoln county officials sent out an alert through the Oklahoma Silver-Alert statewide system.

Instead of driving back west, Mr. Caldwell drove north for over 100 miles and was located safely in Greenburg, KS.

In a related story a New York man from Norwich was found safe after driving his vehicle along Interstate 81. 73 year old Gary Powell suffers from dementia. Late Wednesday evening, a Vulnerable Missing Adult Alert was issued and was cancelled Thursday afternoon after a New York state trooper pulled him over after someone recognized the description of the vehicle and alerted authorities. Mr. Powell was taken to state police barracks and later released to his family

Lessons learned:
Assess and cite drivers who seem confused or who have even minor traffic violations.

  • Due to the slow progression of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, many people with these diagnoses are still driving.
  • If someone has a minor traffic violation, it is important to assess the driver for the possibility of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
  • Once a driver is under suspicion of having Alzheimer’s or dementia, a citation is always needed – this establishes a driving record! It also will help establish a need for a driving reevaluation in the future.
  • Do not just give a driver directions – try to establish where they are coming from and going to and assess whether where they are makes sense—they could be lost and not have the capacity to follow even simple directions.

Resource Used:

 Return to the Alzheimer’s Initiative main page.