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Drivers with Alzheimer's Disease: 10 Warning Signs/10 Steps for Interacting

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2013
2 pages
In order to facilitate patrol officers' appropriate interaction with drivers who have Alzheimer's disease, this instructional brief lists 10 warning signs for Alzheimer's disease and 10 appropriate officer responses to drivers believed to have Alzheimer's disease.
Warning signs for drivers who may have Alzheimer's disease are erratic driving with slow or poor traffic decisions; behavior that may initially appear to be intoxication (delusional thoughts, poor eye contact, and difficulty in composing sentences); appears to be lost or disoriented as to location; defensive behavior; vague answers that do not match the questions asked; has no fixed destination or the driving route is unrelated to the driver's indicated destination; shuffles when walking; cannot produce a valid driver's license, vehicle registration, or insurance documents; and difficulty in remembering the correct date, time, or year. When noticing a combination of these symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, patrol officers should adopt the listed 10 appropriate interactions with the driver. First, speak in a calm, friendly tone. Second, approach from the front of the vehicle and maintain eye contact, preferably without sunglasses. Third, avoid touching the person without first asking or explaining. Fourth, be prepared for sudden mood or demeanor changes. Fifth, ask simple questions one at a time, and allow extra response time without showing impatience. Sixth, move the driver to a safe, comfortable location. Seventh, check for a tracking device or MedicAlert+Alzheimer's Association Safe Return ID. Eighth, run the vehicle registration in order to check for a missing person alert. Ninth, ensure safe transit home with a relative or friend. Tenth, always write a citation, so as to establish a record and a possible need for driver re-evaluation.

Date Published: November 1, 2013