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Transitioning From Driving to Driving Cessation: The Role of Specialized Driving Cessation Support Groups for Individuals With Dementia

Dobbs, Bonnie M. PhD; Harper, Lori A. PhD; Wood, Ava MSc

Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation: January-March 2009 - Volume 25 - Issue 1 - p 73–86
doi: 10.1097/01.TGR.0000346058.32801.95

Introduction Because of the saliency of driving, loss of driving privileges often is very difficult for individuals with a dementia and an ongoing and emotional stressor for caregivers/other family members. Despite this loss, few community-based interventions exist to assist individuals with a dementia and their family members, with the driving cessation process.

Objective To assess the effectiveness of theoretical group interventions associated with loss of driving privileges for individuals with dementia and their primary caregivers.

Methods A total of 74 individuals participated: 44 individuals with dementia and 30 caregivers. Approximately half the participants attended driving cessation support groups designed to specifically assist with the driving issue; the remaining participants attended traditional support groups. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected.

Results The results reported here focus on the efficacy of the groups for individuals with dementia and reveal that theoretical driving cessation support groups are effective in ameliorating many of the negative consequences associated with loss of driving privileges for those with a progressive dementia.

From the Department of Family Medicine, University of Alberta (Dr Dobbs), Geriatric Psychiatry, Alberta Hospital Edmonton Site (Dr Harper), and Geriatric Psychiatry Services, Edmonton Mental Health Clinic (Ms Wood), Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Corresponding author: Bonnie M. Dobbs, PhD, Division of Care of the Elderly and Department of Family Medicine, University of Alberta, 205 College Plaza, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2C8 (e-mail:

Funding from Alzheimer Canada for the 2-year research project is gratefully acknowledged. We thank Ms Natalie Dautovich (research coordinator), Ms Christine Vandenberghe (research assistant), and Ms Carmel Larabie (driving cessation support group leader for the caregiver group) for their dedicated work. To all of the physicians who participated in this project through referrals, thank you for wanting to make a difference in the lives of your patients who were having difficulty coping with the loss of driving privileges. Finally, we are profoundly indebted to the individuals with dementia and caregivers who participated in the research; your willingness to give of yourself during this most difficult of journeys has provided the foundation for interventions to assist others in coping with this most significant loss.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.