COVID-19, Dementia, and Driving: Helping Caregivers with Difficult Conversations


Life as we know it has been drastically changed over the last year by the Covid-19 pandemic. We have had to socially distance and isolate in order to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. This new reality has put older adults with dementia in a particularly concerning situation. Studies say that while necessary, the public health measures mandating social distancing are likely to worsen the social isolation crisis that was already present among the older adult population1,2.

Many agree that this period of extended isolation will likely result in the worsening of cognitive and behavioral symptoms of dementia3,4,5. Researchers have begun to hypothesize what this could mean for the older adult population as restrictions begin to ease in parts of the world. For example, Vingilis et al. (2020)6, recently asked, “Once physical distancing measures are lifted, will some drivers, particularly older adults with dementia and mild cognitive impairment and already declining driving skills, be at particular risk once they resume driving after a lengthy period without practice?”

While many have not yet experienced the easing of restrictions and thus cannot comment, we recently spoke to Lucy*, a caregiver living in a region where lockdown restrictions have been eased. Within days, she had seen her grandfather driving on the wrong side of the road and came home to find several speeding tickets and scratches on his car. Lucy became increasingly stressed as she found herself worrying for both her grandfather’s and the public’s safety. However, with so many changes already having taken place this year, she knew this would be a difficult conversation to have with her grandfather.

After we spoke to Lucy, we decided to revisit, upgrade, and re-launch our popular Care Chat on Driving and Dementia. This lesson was created to help caregivers identify when it might be time for their loved one to stop driving, plan for how to have this difficult conversation, and prepare for how to respond if their loved one disagrees. We are hopeful that with this re-launch, we can offer caregivers effective strategies and peace of mind as they navigate this difficult time.

Want an in-depth look at our Care Chat module? Contact Leda Rosenthal, Director of Growth, at or 1-800-214-5085 ext 1 to book a demo and learn more.

Click here for the list of references used in this research