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Changes in Independence & Developing Healthy Habits


Losing the ability to drive and the freedom and independence associated with driving is traumatizing for someone with HD. There are ways you can prepare to help make this transition easier.  

Before driving becomes unsafe, create a Safe Driving Agreement between the person with HD and a trusted person. This agreement gives the trusted person responsibility for making the decision of when to stop driving.  

  • Slowly shifting from driving to using public transportation, ride sharing, and riding with others.  
  • Offer to drive or arrange for others to drive. 
  • Have honest conversations about unsafe driving when you have concerns about the person’s safety and the safety of everyone around them. 
  • You can also ask your neurologist or social worker for help in convincing a loved one to stop driving. With a referral, an occupational therapist can do a driving evaluation. Sometimes someone with HD can be more responsive to a professional than a loved one.
  • The Department or Bureau of Motor Vehicles can also test driving skills and can revoke a driver’s license.  

If you’re unsuccessful in getting someone to agree to stop driving, you can: 

  • Refuse to get in the car with them 
  • Hide the car 
  • Hiding the keys is a possible solution, but can frustrate the person with HD and they can become aggressive 
  • Have an anti-theft or ignition lock installed 

Keep a journal of warning signs and other observations to help make it clearer when someone should stop driving.  

Warning Signs: 

  • Confusing the brake and gas pedals. 
  • Confusion at exits. 
  • Slow responses to unexpected situations. 
  • Driving too slowly or too fast. 
  • Getting into a car accident or “near misses.” 
  • Getting lost in familiar places. 
  • Hitting curbs. 
  • Incorrect signaling. 
  • Increased agitation or irritation when driving. 
  • Moving into a wrong lane. 
  • Not planning for dangerous situations. 
  • Parking incorrectly. 
  • Scrapes or dents on the car, garage, or mailbox. 
  • Stopping in traffic without a reason. 
  • Tickets or warnings from police. 
  • Trouble with turns. 

Don’t be afraid to fully grieve the loss of the ability to drive with a loved one with HD—this is a huge lifestyle change. Remind someone with HD just because they can’t drive a car, doesn’t mean they can’t continue to be in the driver’s seat of their life.