Study to help Macarthur dementia patients who have lost the right to drive

Help is out there: Losing your licence after being diagnosed with dementia can be difficult. But a new study hopes to alleviate some of the pressure on sufferers and their families.
Help is out there: Losing your licence after being diagnosed with dementia can be difficult. But a new study hopes to alleviate some of the pressure on sufferers and their families.

Dementia can be an isolating and debilitating condition but a new program coming to Macarthur aims to ease the pressure on sufferers and their carers.

The University of Queensland launched a support and education program called CarFreeMe two years ago.

The study aims to help dementia patients transition from being drivers to non-drivers.

Approximately 50 participants have completed or participated in the program in Queensland, the ACT, and the Illawarra/Shoalhaven region.

Principal investigator Doctor Theresa Scott said the study focussed on helping everyone involved with the transition.

"Unless you are directly involved with the process of a dementia patient being told they can no longer drive it can be hard to understand how emotional it is," she said.

"It can make people angry, upset or depressed.

"So we developed this program to help the patient and the people who support them adjust to life without a licence.

"We help them to set goals on how they wish to stay connected to the community, we help them to find other modes of transport and we help them to deal with the grief and the loss associated with losing their licence."

CarFreeMe is held over seven sessions and delivered via telehealth.

All participants are given iPads or other technology to help them through the program with a local support worker on hand to work out any bugs.

Dr Scott said they had seen some success in people using the program so far.

"That's why we've been able to branch out into other areas," she said.

"We chose Macarthur because we know that there is a need in this area.

"We are hearing from people who live in more regional areas that the program has helped immensely because there are less public or support transport options for them."

Dr Scott urged people with dementia, their carers or medical professionals to consider CarFreeMe.

"Our program is extremely personalised so we tailor it to suit people's needs," she said. "Sometimes the people around those with dementia don't know what to do to support them and sometimes people with dementia feel like they have to struggle alone.

"Our study offers them some support for the goals they want to achieve but also the emotional support to deal with the loss of their licence."

Family members, people living with dementia or health professionals who want more information about the study can contact Amy Nussio on: 0457 779 766 or email: a.nussio@uq.edu.au.

This story Study to help Macarthur dementia patients who have lost the right to drive first appeared on Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser.