In the United States, there is probably no greater rite of passage into adulthood, and the independence it represents, than acquiring a driver’s license. Losing that privilege through disability can be incredibly devastating. When Alzheimer’s or other dementias are involved, explaining why driving is no longer safe may not be sufficient to keep a loved one off the road.
One non-confrontational solution is this battery disconnect switch. It’s easy to install on the battery terminal; turning the knob disconnects the battery, making it impossible to start the car. When the car must be driven, the knob is screwed back down, and the battery functions again.
It’s much easier, emotionally, to accept that the car just isn’t working today than it is to accept that a lifetime of independence is gone. A mechanical solution like this may minimize conflicts, while, at the same time, keeping the roads safer for everyone.
“No Start” Car Battery Disconnect Switch, $19.95 (USD) at The Alzheimer’s Store
2 replies on “Car Battery Disconnect Switch for Drivers with Dementia”
Brilliant concept…however if the intended recipient of this little control device has even a tiny amount of car know-how, the device is not only easily circumvented (how much intelligence do they need to screw down a knob??), but the jig will be up and you will have a bitter relative on your hands. A lock & keyed knob would *keep* them stopped, but also just as easily discovered.
The idea works, but a MUCH more hard-to-spot device is in order in my mind.
Thanks for your comment, Dark-Star. It’s likely that for most people whose driving must be limited due to cognitive problems (“When Alzheimer’s or other dementias are involved”), this device would do the trick.
Those types of cognitive problems would likely preclude opening the hood, bracing it, finding the device, and figuring out how to turn the knob. Intelligence isn’t really the issue in those cases.
In other cases, if one responsible party (say an adult) must keep a driver (child) with disabilities off the road, simply enlisting cooperation might be enough; or, if not, locking up the keys or selling the car (if it’s an extra) should do the job.
This particular solution is really most appropriate for a situation where dementia is involved. As ever, specific situations require different solutions.