February 12, 2019
Tokyo--Over 10 pct of elderly people with dementia have had traffic accidents while driving, according to a survey by the Alzheimer's Association Japan.
Including cases in which accidents were about to occur, nearly 30 pct of such people ran into danger, according to the survey answered by family members of dementia sufferers and caregivers.
The survey showed that 83, or 15.1 pct, of 549 elderly people with dementia have experienced traffic accidents while driving. Of them, 34 had property damage, and 29 caused collisions with other vehicles.
Two people drove in the wrong direction and one caused a fatal accident.
The survey found that 63 people, or 11.5 pct of the total, nearly caused accidents. Of them, 11 ignored traffic lights or failed to stop at rail crossings, 10 got lost and seven were about to drive in the wrong direction.
The proportion of people who do not have a driver's license now after being diagnosed with dementia stood at 41.2 pct, while 20.4 pct still have it.
Of people who returned their driver's license, only 22.5 pct did so voluntarily.
Asked about any problem after returning a driver's license with multiple answers allowed, 42 people felt angry or became upset, 41 became homebodies and 40 tried to drive while forgetting they had returned their driver's license.
Kayo Abe, head of the secretariat for the Kyoto-based association, pointed to the importance of enabling people with dementia to continue to live in their familiar places without driver's licenses.
"The Japanese government needs to act to secure substitute means of transportation for them instead of leaving the issue to municipalities," Abe said.
The association conducted questionnaires with 940 family members of people with dementia and caregivers nationwide in January-February last year. Of them, 549 gave valid answers. Jiji Press
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