Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care (Toronto)
Improving Performance in Drivers with Mild Cognitive Impairment: An RCT of Cognitive Training
Driving is the primary source of transportation for older adults. Loss of driving privileges is often considered catastrophic by older adults and can result in serious adverse consequences such as social isolation, depression and loss of independence. Clinicians and policy makers are challenged by the conflict presented by growing numbers of older drivers with cognitive impairment who may pose a safety risk to themselves and the public, yet the need to maintain mobility to allow them to continue to function independently in the community. Currently, doctors have little to offer their patients with cognitive impairment that could improve their driving performance and potentially prolong the time that they are able to drive safely, as well as allow them more time to prepare for driving retirement. Diminished sustained attention and speed of information processing, which have been shown to be associated with poor driving performance, are areas of cognition that have been shown to decline in older adults and in persons with mild cognitive impairment. Members of our research team have shown that Goal Management Training can improve sustained attention in healthy older adults. A previous study has shown that speed of processing training can improve driving performance in healthy older adults. The ultimate purpose of our research is to develop interventions to help maintain older adults’ mobility and functional independence in order to assist their ‘aging at home’. The specific objective of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of a combined program of Goal Management Training and speed of processing training at improving cognitive functioning and driving performance on a driving simulator in mildly cognitively impaired adults 65 years of age and older.