Pilot Study of Driving Safety Counseling at the Memory Aging and Resiliency Clinic

Research Lead: Linda Hill

UC Campus(es): 

Additional Research Partners: UC San Diego

Problem Statement: Dementia is increasing in the aging population with an estimated 5.2 million suffering of Alzheimer’s dementia in 2014 and 14% of the population over 70 having some type of dementia. Cognitively impaired older drivers pose additional challenges, in that they are less likely to self-regulate or comply with cessation advice. The challenge exists in balancing mobility for older drivers, while addressing impairments that can affect transportation safety. Physicians caring for individuals with cognitive challenges need clear guidance on the implementation of screening and counseling for driving safety.

Project Description: The UC San Diego Training Research and Education for Driving Safety (TREDs) program worked with the Memory Aging and Resiliency Clinic (MARC) at the UC San Diego (UCSD) Department of Psychiatry to assess the feasibility, acceptability and efficacy of driving safety counseling for patients with memory concerns. Patients who presented for care to the MARC were given a battery of cognitive testing, for the purposes of assessing and diagnosing their memory issues, and this project supported additional testing during these visits, including vision and frailty testing as well as testing using a driving simulator where participant permission and time permitted. Counseling was provided to the patients at the MARC clinic exit interview, including cognitive diagnosis. A post recommendation assessment was provided to the patient or family within 1-2 months via phone. In total, 25 clients were seen: 6 were advised to stop driving, 2 to limit their driving; the others were given advice on how to continue to driver safety. The pilot informed the generation of protocols on driving screening for other geriatric clinics, and these protocols have been posted at the TREDS website treds.ucsd.edu. The feasibility and acceptability of driving safety counseling has not been well studied to date in memory clinics, and this report provides guidance for implementing similar programs across the state.

Status: Completed

Budget: $50,000