Driving represents freedom. The ability to jump in your car and go anywhere that you want is a great feeling, but that ability often declines as a person with Parkinson’s disease progresses. My mom had Parkinson’s disease for 25 years (you can read more about my family’s story here) and she was able to drive for about half of those years. Luckily, I was able to pick up the driving duties as my mom’s health deteriorated.
- Driving safety is paramount for Parkinson’s patients. Here are some things to consider when thinking about driving:
- Parkinson’s impacts cognition as well as movement. Oftentimes traffic moves quickly and it becomes difficult for patients to respond accordingly.
- There are several medications like carbidopa/levodopa, amantadine, dopamine agonists and anticholinergics that can blur vision, impair mental functions, and can cause sleepiness.
- Stress can induce Parkinson’s symptoms and driving can be stressful for a Parkinson’s patient.
It’s a good idea to have open communication about the effects of Parkinson’s disease on driving. If you or your loved one finds that it is no longer safe or desirable to drive you can be assured that forfeiting driving does not mean giving up mobility.