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2005 Grant - Freund
Enhancing Independence: Prescribing Strategies to Promote Continued Driving
Barbara M. Freund, Ph.D.
Eastern Virginia Medical School
2005 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
For many people in the United States, being able to drive is a critical aspect of living independently. Once driving privileges are taken away, individuals must often accept a more dependent living arrangement—a change that affects both individuals and their caregivers. For many older persons with dementia, the recommendation to cease driving is often based on diagnosis alone, rather than on an assessment of abilities. Interventions to improve driving strategies may provide options to individuals other than no driving at all.
Barbara Freund, M.D., and colleagues are investigating driving interventions that would promote safe driving in cognitively impaired older adults. She will study adults drivers, 65 years of age and older with either mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer's disease. Her studies will include both neuropsychological assessments and driving performance tests using an interactive simulator that has been validated with actual road skills. Tests will be performed at the beginning of the study and every six months thereafter.
In preliminary studies, Dr. Freund identified several interventional driving strategies that will be examined as part of this ongoing study. The researchers hope to determine whether these strategies effectively enable participants to continue driving safely and how much they prolong safe driving. The outcome of this work may promote optimal independent living and quality of life for people with dementia.