Alzheimer’s symptoms: Signs while driving may indicate early stages of the disease

The early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia, could be detected in a person’s driving, according to a study from Washington University in St. Louis.

If goods natural that driving everyone change as they agesome subtle differences may be indicative of the condition.

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The experiment led by Catherine Roe and Ganesh Babulaland financed by the National Institute on Agingwanted to find out if these driving differences can be detected using Global Positioning System (GPS)-based location tracking devices.

A group of over-65s in Missouri, USA, agreed to have their driving closely monitored for a year.

The study DRIVESas it was called, also sought to find out if studying the driving habits of this group alone could reveal the onset of the disease without the need for expensive medical procedures.

After 365 days, the researchers were confident that it could.

Of the 139 people who participated in the study, medical tests had already shown that about half had very early or «preclinical» Alzheimer’s disease. The other half did not suffer from it.

And an analysis of his driving showed detectable differences between the two groups.

those with preclinical Alzheimer’s tended to drive more slowlydo abrupt changes, travel less at night Y travel fewer miles overall.

They also visited a smaller variety of destinations while they were driving sticking to slightly more confined routes.

Sayeh Bayat, a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto, who also led the study, said: «The way people move in their daily environment, from the places they visit to how they drive, can tell us a lot about their health.» .

GPS trackers installed in the participants’ cars revealed these movements, also when they occurred, in detail.

The participants had previously been divided into those with preclinical Alzheimer’s disease and those who did not undergo medical tests such as cerebrospinal fluid tests and positron emission tomography (PET) scans.

Using the results of the driving data, they were able to design a model that could predict how likely someone is to have preclinical Alzheimer’s. using your age and your GPS driving data.

This method was shown to have 86 percent accuracy.

Ms Bayat added: «With these few indicators … you can really, very confidently, identify whether a person has preclinical Alzheimer’s disease or not.»

The model was even more accurate (90 percent) when you also added the results of a genetic test for Alzheimer’s known as apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotyping that indicates whether you may have an inherited risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

But the prediction based on age and driving alone it was almost as accurate.

It should be noted that larger randomized studies are needed to show a definitive link between detected driving behaviors and preclinical Alzheimer’s disease.

But the driving behavior of people that changes when they have Alzheimer’s is well documented.

The NHS says that in the early stages, the main symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is memory lapses.

Someone with early Alzheimer’s may:

  • forget about recent conversations or events
  • misplace items
  • forget the names of places and objects
  • have trouble thinking of the right word
  • ask questions repetitively
  • show poor judgment or find it more difficult to make decisions
  • become less flexible and more reluctant to try new things
  • There are also often signs of mood swings, such as increased anxiety or agitation, or periods of confusion.

If you’re worried about your memory or think you may have dementia, it’s a good idea to see a GP.