Research to test driving skills in dementia patients
RESEARCHERS in Victoria are set to examine whether people with dementia should be given a second attempt in the test that determines how long they keep their driver’s licence.
The research, which will produce recommendations to be sent to road safety authorities, will also investigate whether such testing should be confined to roads familiar to the patient.
Dementia patients may benefit from retaining their driver’s licence, and therefore independence, for longer, said Professor Carolyn Unsworth from the Department of Occupational Therapy at La Trobe University.
Her research, which raises a broader question about the safety of all road users, has received a $39,000 Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation grant.
“This grant allows us to investigate several issues surrounding driving assessments for people who have been recently diagnosed with dementia,” Professor Unsworth said.
“[This includes] looking at the different options regarding a driving assessment – for example, being tested in their local area or undertaking the test a second time.”
It is hoped the findings will be incorporated in VicRoads testing guidelines affecting people with dementia.
A second Alzheimer’s Australia grant was also awarded to Associate Professor Rajiv Khosla, from La Trobe University’s Research Centre for Computers, Communication and Social Innovation.
“The $40,000 granted to our department will provide my colleagues and I with an opportunity to trial affective communication robots,” he said.
“In this case, [it is] a robot called Matilda, with the premise it may improve the quality of life for people with dementia and their carers.”